Posted by & filed under My Nature Journal.


I know I risk this entry being called an advice column, which it is NOT.

Many birders don’t want to talk about family obligations and how difficult it is to maintain our passion/sport/hobby and still manage relationships!  Couples have foundered, children have been neglected, ageing parents haven’t been visited — all because we wanted to chase a bird.

How many rare county, state, or life birds have you missed because of family obligations to children, non-birding spouses and non-participating significant others?

Birding requires a lot of time, patience, and devotion to detail.

Let’s face it:  you can’t be a good birder without spending hours in the field.

The regular chunks of birding time — a morning here, a class there, a weekend field trip:  well, those can usually be managed.

Our families put up with SCHEDULED birding.

But now fall migration is approaching, and we birders know what the problem is going to be.

In fall, the birds don’t wait around.  They’re headed south, and typically these rare or out-of-range individuals do not linger more than an hour or a day — several days if we’re lucky.

These urgent rarities are the ones we birders agonize over, because most of us can’t just drop everything and run to see a rare bird!

The list of hard luck cases ranges from “My son is the star player on his soccer team and I have to drive him to the game!”  to “We’re supposed to be leaving in ten minutes to go to a reception honoring my grandmother (or boss, or father-in-law), and I can’t possibly get away.”

Those of us who’re lucky enough to have patient non-birding “others” in our life know our good fortune.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t cringe when we say,

“Ummm, honey, there’s a really, really rare bird in Santa Maria, do you mind if I leave immediately and am gone the rest of the day????  And could you please meet the plumber and tell him where the new hot water heater has to go???  Oh, and I don’t have time to go to the store, so could you pick up dinner, too????”

So this is a problem to which there are few solutions.

In my experience you can:

1) Put on a happy face, but kind of sulk the rest of the day,

2) Hope and pray the bird will stay one more day so you can go first thing tomorrow,

3) Bemoan your circumstances to sympathetic birding friends who can’t get away either and are just as frustrated.

Actually, the only solution is to ask for eternal tolerance, good cheer, and cooperation from our loved ones, right?

And now, so sorry I have to go.

I just heard about a __(fill in the blank)__ , AND I HAVE TO SEE IT BEFORE SUNDOWN because it’ll surely be gone by tomorrow!!!