Date: 6/20/18 4:41 pm From: Gerry Cooperman <trogon6...> Subject: [MASSBIRD] MY MOST MEMORABLE BIRD
What is the meaning of memorable? The dictionary says, "worthy to be remembered and very important to remember." I translated this into a bird that was forever etched in my mind. Now I had at least a place to start the process of selection. I felt this would be an easy process but as I soon learned the more thought simply added to the list. What would be the criteria? Significance, Foreign birds, most beautiful and the list goes on. Here's a tip if you have to look at your sightings list the bird wasn't memorable enough to qualify. Let me add that all birds I've seen are important to me so selecting one becomes a challenge.
After 50 years of birding I have seen many memorable birds so the selection process was not easy. My first pass was to have a list of candidates that was a manageable number. My goal was to have at least 10 candidates.That was wishful thinking. I found myself making cases for all those I eliminated. It's hard to be objective when your logic is influenced by passion. It's almost as if I didn't want to offend any bird I removed from consideration.
After several attempts I finally got it down to 6 finalists: Pels Fishing Owl - I came face to face with this incredible cinnamon bird on a mahogany hummock in the African bush, Keel -billed Toucan - to see this bird and all the colors in the bill will always be my banner of the tropical rain forest, Resplendant Quetzal - Peterson said this was the most beautiful bird in the world and there is no reason to disagree and seeing one in open on a sunny day is incredible, Colima Warbler - the hardest bird to get to see. Surviving the climb up Pinnacle Pass to Boot Springs (4.5 miles) to 7500' and then the walk back (5.5 miles) on a safer trail. No sane person does this only birders, Gyrfalcon - this took place in Denali Park as our group was inspected first by a female and then by a male after he had dive bombed a Golden Eagle. They hovered only 5 feet above our heads examining the trespassers moving ever so slowly. The last was not a specific bird but what was happening. I was standing on the bird cliffs of St. Paul in the Pribilofs and the skies were teeming with hundreds of thousands of seabirds. I have never seen anything to equal this spectacle. Any of the six are worthy to be number one but that honor falls to another. To all the other birds that have graced my life - thank you for the memories.
It was January 1976. I was living in Rhode Island with my wife and two young children. I was a smoker who had previously stopped for three years and started again and was trying to find a reason to stop. My life list stood at 299 and i said when I see number 300 the smoking stops. If I kept my eyes shut my smoking would win but I was determined to see the next bird. A bird was reported in Newport that was new to me so we bundled up the kids and headed out. There had been a large snow storm two weeks earlier so when we got to the place they had pushed all the snow off the road and into the embankment at my destination.
Undaunted I left the car and pushed my way , knee deep in snow, to the top. And my effort was met with failure. I got back to the car and met my two crying kids because daddy played in the snow and they couldn't. This was the last time my wife went birding with me. The following weekend I made the same trip, alone of course and again no luck. The third attempt proved the charm. On a clear bright sunny January day swimming placidly on the pond was #300. My cigarettes went into a bag and disposed of shortly thereafter.
Why this becomes my most memorable is that it changed the quality of my life. Birding itself does the same but it becomes more cerebral but you reap the benefits of being outside and exercising also meeting great people. This bird changed my health in a profound way and has continued this gift every day for the last 42 years. A most memorable gift to be sure. It was unimportant how unique this bird was but it was indeed; you see #300 was a Smew.
Now it's your turn to roll back the memories and find the most memorable bird in your life. Give it a try and share your special story.