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I’m lying in bed (in my camper) unable to sleep and all of a sudden I hear it.  “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you-all?”  

Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you-aaaaall?”

The amazing, distinctive call of the Barred Owl.  Undeniable.  And, thrilling to a bird nerd like me. 

What a gift to receive during my inaugural camping trip in my new travel trailer.  I laid there and listened to it call 5 or 6 times, telling myself “I should go out there and see if I can see it!”.  Another call.  “Okay.  If I hear that call one more time I’ll get up and go see”.  Nothing.  It had gone. 

A few hours later after getting a few more winks, I did get up before sunrise to go look at birds.  The “technical” term for looking at birds is “Birding” as opposed to birdwatching (or, looking at birds, for that matter).  However, I realized on this trip out that what I do is more birdwatching than birding.  I don’t log my “life birds”.  I’m not on the “hunt” to see how many different species or variants I’ve seen in my life or pour over my bird books to make sure I’m identifying them exactly correct.  I just like to look at birds.  Don’t get me wrong…if I’ve seen a bird I haven’t seen in a very long time or, for the first time EVER…I get extremely excited.  And, as for blue jays and mallards (both lovely birds) I ignore them almost completely.  Cause I’ve seen them thousands of times.  

I walked along the foot path and while enjoying the quietude, the beauty of the forest, savannah and prairie in which I walked I didn’t see many birds, even, less interesting ones.  I did however, get to experience a lovely sunrise, but where are all the birds on this birdwatching trip?  

From doing this enough times, I’ve learned a couple things.  First, you have to be patient.  It’s a lot like fishing, you don’t just cast and catch.  Secondly, you have to enjoy the ride (or, more accurately, the walk) in and of itself.  

Perhaps most importantly, you have to press on.  

I decided to continue on, up ahead, before turning back and heading towards camp.  Hopeful to obtain the prize I was seeking.  As I crested the hill, I could see a stand of trees wading in a small body of water.  Up in one of the bare trees was some type of raptor, or, bird of prey.  Bingo.  At this distance, it was difficult to tell what it was even with the binoculars.  I slowly inched closer careful not to frighten this bird.  A little closer.  Got it.  Peregrine Falcon!  NOT a bird I see regularly.  Awesome.  A little closer to get a better look and off she flew circling around and perching back on a tree further from her observer.  

I ended up seeing sets of wood ducks (one of my all-time favorite species), blue-winged teals, a great blue heron and on my way back a male and female hooded merganser (both “life” birds).  

Not only did I enjoy myself immensely on this little adventure, I got myself up out of bed to do it.  Which made it all the more satisfying.

What I’ve learned from these birds and for myself is…

If you want to find your prize, you’ve got to:

  • Get out of bed
  • Be patient
  • Enjoy the “walk” and,
  • Press on

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