Following up on my newly-found interest in birds, last week I ended up at the Seattle Audubon's society home page and from there at Birdnote, the home page of short podcasts on various bird species.
One of the first podcasts I listened to was Hazel Brown and the brown creeper, the story of a Seattle activist who was converted to a bird lover after observing the small, brown creeper on her first outing.
For me, the most remarkable part of the story was simply that there was a bird called the brown creeper that I could not remember ever seeing despite many years walking the Northwest woods. Even more remarkably, I spotted one of them on my very next walk, a walk I've taken nearly five times a week for the last two years.
I wasn't more than two hundred yards into my Nisqually walk when I ran into another brown creeper climbing a large, moss-covered tree:
After these kinds of experiences, it's hard not to begin to wonder exactly how much in life I've been missing. I've begun to notice just how many small birds there are that I have taken very little notice of before, and, even more remarkable, apparently they all have names, not that it's always easy to match a name to a particular photo.
For instance, here's a Warbling Vireo who seemed to spend most of his time flying a foot or two off the ground:
Here's what I think is a Hammond's Flycatcher:
Though he doesn't look very different from what I'm guessing is a Western Wood-Pewee:
Just knowing names doesn't seem too important. For instance, learning today that what I've been calling an Oregon Junko for several years is really a Black-Capped Chickadee didn't change my love of these small birds. Being aware of the large number of tiny birds inhabiting the woods, listening for their songs and watching for their quick flitting as I walk the trail is important, though. This increased awareness transforms walking into an even richer experience.