The journey to BirdGoober has been a life-long dream of-sorts. I'm Terry, a bird nerd from childhood. Back in the era of primitive technology (CB radios), I went by the handle "birdman" at around 12 years old. I have no memory of a concious decision to like birds...I really don't remember conciously liking them per se, but I found myself associated with them always. My first bird book was a Golden Nature Guide "Gamebirds". It was a 1961 edition and the price on the cover says $1.00. I still have this book on my shelf...tattered and torn, it was well-used. I imagined myself a young Roger Tory Peterson as I drew the likeness of every water and land fowl in North America from it. I also vividly remember reading comments by Peterson in my second field guide that it would be good to keep a life list of birds I'd seen. Listing wasn't my thing...it seemed too much like organization, I had no time for that. In my little corner of West Michigan in the 1970's, I had no idea that ANYONE actually did that anyway! Still, I fancied myself a budding field ornithologist and had absolutely no idea how many species I'd seen and was aware of no birding community of fellow obsessives.
It really wasn't until college in my late 20's that I became aware that I wasn't alone...and that there were people actually keeping lists of life birds...and having discussions with others that shared my disfunction. In an undergraduate ornithology course at Central Michigan University's Biological Station on Beaver Island (more...lots more...about Beaver Island in a later post) I found some kindred spirits. There were seven of us in the class...isolated from reality on an island for three weeks from pre-dawn til dusk. These people, the Bird Nerds (Birdus nerdus beaverislandi) changed me forever.
That's me, Terry, bottom left. Bird Nerds, Beaver Island, May, 1990.
Then life took over. Marriage, lovely children, career...all the right things. I still loved looking at birds. Still stopped at places like Magee Marsh once in a while, incorporated bird adaptations into my 8th grade science lessons when I could...always loved birds...but the passion of birding community was second to the rest of life.
What a long, strange journey, then, til I met Andrea. We'd both been through life's challenges and lessons and found one another quite by accident. She wasn't a birder, though she was a lover of nature and quickly developed quite a skill for spotting birds as I listened and looked. I knew I had her when, the spring after we met, we were lounging in the hot tub as I heard the first pine warbler of the year 2010. We ran into the house, grabbed the binoculars and returned to the water searching the trees, finally finding the bird as our kids looked out the upstairs window at us...shaking their heads.
Now, my bride of six years and I bird constantly. Usually it's serendipitous...we're just always birding no matter what we're "actually" doing. Binoculars are always handy, eyes are always scanning, ears are always tuned in to the songs of our friends.
I'm no longer a little boy alone in my facination with birds. Andrea and I embrace the birding community. We love the crowded boardwalk of Magee Marsh during The Biggest Week in American Birding and we also love the solitude of walking quietly next to Barney's Lake on peaceful Beaver Island. I love that we can share each other with birders of all ages and all walks of life.
BirdGoober hasn't happened overnight. It's been a long strange journey. I wouldn't trade it for the world and I'm glad you're joining us for the ride.