I learned that loving birds is best done by walking in the sun, being curious and appreciating the chatter. Not by sitting on my own looking at books and screens
- The Guardian/BirdLife Australia Bird of the Year poll for 2021 will begin on 27 September
I once saw a picture of a kid standing proudly next to his science project. It was a handmade poster and emblazoned across the top was the strikingly catchy title: “Birds: they’re fucking everywhere!”Obviously photoshopped, these words nevertheless struck me as being both funny and more or less true.
Many years ago, camping in the Cathedrals in Victoria, I woke early to a strange, whirring birdcall. Groggily, I unzipped the tent enough to stick my head out and squinted unattractively in the dawn light. The bird I saw had astonishing violet-blue eyes and was sort of, I dunno, stripy? I am, you may have guessed, a novice birder. So, I did the exact thing that any experienced birder will tell you not to do. I pulled my head back inside my tent and went straight for my field guide. If you too are new to birding, here’s a tip: your field guide isn’t likely to fly away in the next few seconds and (if you’re not me) you have this ace thing called working memory. So get your priorities straight, put down your field guide (or, more likely these days, your phone) and give your new friend your undivided attention. Because life is short and this moment is fleeting.