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Monday, August 18, 2008

From Bird Phobic to Bird Lover

Even though I am a nature lover I never expected to be someone that gets excited over birds. Bird watching was not a hobby I had any intention of taking up. My youthful thinking thought bird watching was way too boring plus for a very long time I was thoroughly creeped out by birds.

I attribute my extreme fear and paranoid phobia about birds to three incidents in my childhood. The first being the movie The Birds. I watched it at a very young age and was completely traumatized. For a long time every time I seen a bird I would cry and scream and try to hide. Then there were those horrible chickens my parents had when I was little. My memories are repressed but I am sure they did bad things to me. I couldn’t wait to tear down that dilapidated chicken coop when I inherited my grandmother’s house. Then there were all those birds that just roamed free at the Detroit Zoo. Every time I went to the zoo as a child I was stalked by turkeys, peacocks, ducks and geese. One time a really big turkey chased me.

After a childhood of bird trauma I entered adulthood with a full blown case of ornithophobia. This fear lasted even after cultivating a love for gardening and crafting. It’s funny I would make decorative bird houses and bird theme crafts and feel like such a hypocrite because I hated birds.

Lately I felt the fear slipping from me and being replaced with interest. My computer desk overlooks the wooded landscape of my backyard. I guess now that I’m getting older I’m taking the time to notice my surroundings. I love watching all the critters roaming in my yard from squirrels and stray cats in the day to raccoons and opossums in the evening and yes, I even started enjoying the antics of the birds. Much to my surprise I started wondering about them, what kind were they, what did they eat, and all that. I knew the basic birds; cardinal, blue jay, robin…but what was that little guy with the black head, or the brown speckled one that was kind of fat, or the little yellowish green guy that was so tiny?

I found an old copy of Birds: a Guide to the Most Familiar American Birds and put it right next to my computer so when I see a bird I can look it up. Now it has become almost a ritual with my little toddler and I to look for birds every morning together and my eight year old daughter likes to join us when she’s not in school. We look for birds together and then try to figure out what kind they are. One day we were graced with a visit from a red headed wood pecker. My daughter really loved that one. We are having fun scouting for birds and watching the squirrel antics that tend to go on. It’s a great way to spend quality time with my kids and they are learning about nature.

I’ve come so far as to actually buy birdseed and bird feeders to attract more birds to my yard and my outdoor to-do list includes building and putting up bird houses that are actually usable, not just decorative and I would like to put in a bird bath.

I have definitely come full circle; who would have thought a person could go from bird phobic to bird lover?

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