By Scott Ervin
When my wife Glenda asked me to write an article about why I am a bird watcher, I realized I didn’t know why. I have enjoyed feeding birds and watching them for decades, but I had never thought about why I enjoy it so much.
It’s safe to say I’m a fanatical bird watcher. I set up a bird feeding station at each the places I’ve lived since my mother pushed me out of the nest shortly after high school. (16 places so far). I’ve kept a record of all the different species spotted at each of these places. I just completed drawings for a critter-proof bird feeding station I plan to build that looks a lot like the board game Mouse Trap. I really don’t want to know how much money I‘ve spent on bird food.
So, it’s clear I enjoy my birds, but why?
I grew up in an urban setting. I don’t have any memories of watching “city birds” during those earlier years. However, my grandparents in suburban Waterford, Michigan had a large bird feeder in their backyard. Perhaps birding skips a generation and my obsession is beyond my control.
I find watching birds to be calming. It provides me an escape from the realities of work, bills, politics, etc. Perhaps birding is a needed stress relief.
I find the varieties within the bird world intriguing. The various colors, sizes and shapes are seemingly endless. However, for me it’s the variety of “personalities” that intrigue me the most. Perhaps I enjoy being entertained by their stage show performances.
I find the prospect of spotting new species to add to my list captivating. I’m always on the lookout for new arrivals and hoping to make a rare spotting so I can brag to other bird nerds. For a hobby, I collect coins, stamps, baseball cards, certain old beer cans, etc. Perhaps it’s the collector in me that keeps me captivated.
I have a strong love of nature and the wildlife supported by a natural environment. Whenever possible I enjoy visiting protected or preserved areas to observe nature in settings less affected by human activities than I’m able to see in my backyard. Perhaps I enjoy bird watching because it allows me to see a glimpse of wildlife in-action, right in my backyard.
Perhaps the answer to Glenda’s question is: all of the above. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is all of these things and more (except maybe that skipped generation theory). Whatever the reasons, I always enjoy the time spent with “my birds.” I am constantly improving the habitat of our property with enhancements to provide more support for wildlife and attract more birds. I’d like to encourage anyone reading this to do the same.
Editor’s Note: The following article comes to use from Scott Ervin, husband of Glenda Lehman Ervin, Director of Marketing and daughter of company founder Jay Lehman. First posted in April 2021.