Laugh Lines and Other Wrinkles: For the birds
A national survey shows that bird watchers spend nearly $41 billion annually on trips and equipment. Their coffee table books picture birds doing all sorts of birdlike things - balancing on telephone wires, picking lice out of their tails, pushing babies out of nests …
Dedicated watchers organize groups to go traipsing through the woods at 5 a.m. just to see a Swamp Tailed Field Sparrow, a Crooked Beaked Meadow Finch or a Magenta Sapsucker, if they get their field glasses focused.
Some birds are extremely difficult to spot. Well, I guess. How would you like to have your mating habits observed and recorded at that hour of the morning?
Have you ever thought what it would be like if the roles were reversed? Surely you’ve pondered on this from time to time.
Suppose a horde of feathered people watchers suddenly appeared and started pointing their wing tips at you, exclaiming, “Look Claude, there’s a flat-breasted one with a big tail!’’
To which his friend replies, “Where? I see a male warbler with brown spots on his belly.’’
“No, dummy, that’s the female. See how drab she looks. Probably hatched her eggs too close together. Look how messy her nest is. Rubber bands, dead grass, strings – disgusting. Bet she feeds her babies day-old worms.’’
“Quick, Claude, look! There goes a Purple-Lipped Frazzled Housewife darting in the bushes. They’re an endangered species you know. It’s rare to see one with purple lips this early in the morning.’’