Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Books That Inspire

I’m an avid birder. My fascination with bird life is an ongoing hobby, started about ten years ago. I’m proud to say that I have 78 birds on my life list. The most recent was a pileated woodpecker sighted in Door County Wisconsin.

It all started with one book called The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession. Every year beginning on January 1st, another Big Year begins. It’s a full calendar year marathon to see who can sight the most birds. The Big Year follows three men in 1998 as they battle their way across deserts, bodies of water, and mountains to come in first. At the end of this particular year, one man (can’t tell you which one) counted 765 different species. The story is funny and nuts and thoroughly engaging.

Which brings me to another story told to me recently about a man who taught his yellow crested cockatoo to sit on his shoulder. One spring day, he forgot that the parrot was on his shoulder and went outdoors. The bird promptly flew off, ignoring the man’s special whistle. The summer went by without any sign of the cockatoo. Fall came and the man was outside when he spotted a flock of pigeons flying overhead. One of the flockers (is that a word?) had a yellow headcrest.

He whistled his special cockatoo call. The bird left the group of other birds and descended.
And that’s how the man got his bird back.

So, because of that one little book, a passion was born.
Has that ever happened to you?
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