the Rookie Birder

I have watched birds all my life, but after reading "The Big Year," "Grail Bird" and especially Kenn Kaufman's "Kingbird Highway," plus Santa's timely stocking stuffer of "Sibley's 2003 Eastern & Western Field Guides," I made the decision to become a rookie birder beginning January 1st, 2006.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My first bird?

Englewood, Colorado
Denver's south side near Cherry Creek Lake and Cherry Creek State Park

Sunday, January 1st, 2006, 10am

Lynne & I flew to Colorado on New Years Eve for a 5 day visit to Denver, Summit County and Boulder to see friends and family. We had a quiet New Years Eve at Lynne's friends Jeanine and Carmen. That night we stayed in their guest room, and at 530am I awoke to a squirming daughter. She was restless, and it woke me up. Little did I know her waking me up would allow me to identify my first bird as a birder.

As I lie in bed I heard the unmistakable hoot of an owl. It was the unmistakable ho hoo hoo hoododo hooooo hoo of a Great Horned Owl. I heard it distinctly 5 or 6 times. It sounded like it was in Jeanine & Carmen's back yard. When Anna Grace eventually woke up too early, I told her to listen for the hooting of an owl outside. Her focus on this was just what she needed to fall back asleep.

Lynne, Robert and Anna Grace all got up and went downstairs before I did. Anna Grace apparently told her mother that daddy told her to listen to the owl as she tried to fall asleep. Her mom laughed and made some slanderous comment about daddy's new birding quest which host Carmen overheard. He told her that I very well might have heard an owl, as they had a neighborhood Great Horned Owl (photo Carmen Yon) that was regularly spotted on neighbor's roof tops. Lynne couldn't believe it, so Carmen showed her the excellent photos he had taken of the bird, and she could only laugh that I was right.

But as I didn't see the bird, and am only a rookie birder, I can't count this one, at least not yet. I got lucky with this identification. But now I know where I can find at least one Great Horned Owl if I haven't found one before our annual summer trip to Colorado this August. Then I will be prepared to see this owl, instead of just hearing it!


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