We received blessings due to the struggles and challenges of spring and summer 2020. Stressed from the pandemic lockdowns, furloughs and news in general, we made significant life changes.
Beyond enjoying and experimenting more with cooking, baking, walking, biking and creative adventures, we went into radical and serious mode.
Our make ‘lemons to lemonade’ strategies included moving further away into the Texas Hill Country, spending more quality time with family, and cutting costs big time.
Along the way, traveling and visiting close ones, we naturally gravitated to a destressful interest.
Birdwatching might be the perfect hobby or getaway in your own backyard.
You don’t even need to order anything from Amazon to get started. All you need are ears, eyes, and an outdoors view.
At a recent long overdue visit to an old high school friend’s home, we noticed he had several bird feeders set up outside windows of his house.
Randy Potts was able to identify several bird types, Cardinal, Mockingbird, and Woodpeckers. He keeps a birdwatching guide on hand when he needs help.
We learned that stepping out into our own backyard is a great way to get started while breaking cabin fever.
I dusted off my own guide to determine what birds are native to the area we live in or where we are traveling. It’s also easy searching the internet.
We discovered there are good birding apps available for downloading. Some of the most popular and easy to use are the Merlin app and Sibley app. These include a map of our area, and information about the birds we are likely to see. It’s also a good opportunity to use the pair of binoculars I had lying around. No worries. We’re able to spot many different species of birds with the naked eye.
Some researchers keep a journal, or record of the birds they spot.
During road trips in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas we’ve noticed that birds we spot in the early morning often differ from the late afternoon visitors. Spring is a particularly great time to start birdwatching as migration and nesting season are underway.
When I was a kid and heard my parents or grandparents get excited about a bird or some wildflowers, I just nodded and didn’t give them much thought.
Not only am I appreciative of those memories, but have found myself captivated by different colors and markings on different birds.
Dodie engages all of her senses and it’s caused me to realize how my ears are a great birding tool. Like in childhood, I take a moment to listen to the sounds the birds are making.
It’s sometimes difficult to tell which bird is making what sound when you’ve spotted a cluster in a tree. A bird singing in plain sight is a great way to connect the sound to the bird.
With some time and effort, I’m recognizing different species of birds by sound alone.
A benefit has been developing more patience and persistence. They are key.
Eventually we’ve determined what time of day birds in our area are most active, and we start spotting new birds.
Keep these Dos and Don’ts in mind to make your time birdwatching a fun and educational experience:
DON’T go crazy worrying about the right equipment or the perfect space.
DO work with what you have, even if it’s simply your two eyes and two ears. No perfect space required. Enjoy birdwatching from your backyard, a patch of land in the front yard, or a small balcony off your city apartment.
DON’T beat yourself up if you have an ‘unproductive’ outing. View any time you spend outside or gazing out the window as an opportunity to build on your birding knowledge.
DO keep in mind that you are getting fresh air and Vitamin D.
DON’T make yourself crazy with birding goals that may not be attainable. If you become obsessed with spotting some rare bird, you will miss the birds that are right under your nose.
DO be sure to focus on the sights and sounds of whatever birds visit your backyard.
Birdwatching during quarantine or on our road trips has become good antidote to cabin fever. It’s a chance to get some fresh air and sunshine, and a great way to keep our eyes and ears sharp.
It’s good for our souls and gets us closer to nature. It feels like we are doing more than just existing in front of a television, video game or Internet.
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.