How it All Began
I had nearly finished my children’s picture book, Word Builders: Birds, when I realized that my draft had one major category of birds missing – Backyard Birds. I had captured every other type of bird, such as birds of prey, water birds, flightless birds, and farm birds, but had photographed very few living in my own neighborhood. I tried in vain to photograph them at local parks and in my yard, but quickly realized that birds are pretty skittish when having long camera lenses pointed at them. So, I wondered, how do I coax the neighborhood birds to come to my yard?
The answer should have been obvious, especially to me, an Italian-American whose family gatherings require abundant home-cooked food in order for anyone to show up! Just like my family, if you want a lot wild birds to show up, you must feed them. Mary Poppins had the right idea!
Knowing almost nothing about feeding birds, I began to search for answers at my friendly, local garden store. It turned out that Backyard Birding seemed a bit more complicated than I thought. There were many options to consider:
- Which birds would I like to attract?
- How do I identify the birds?
- What type of food should I buy?
- Which feeder should I buy?
- Where should I put the feeder?
- How much money should I spend?
And those are just for starters! Then there’s the bigger question:
why do it?
To each question, I responded with a shrug. In my Backyard Birding series, I'll break down these questions and many others so that you don't have to shrug, and hopefully spare you from some of the mistakes I've made. What started as a need to finish a book page took me on a journey of unexpected and joyful paths, not just in my own backyard, but in all of my travels. But beware - birding is contagious! I got family members hooked, too!
In a future article, I'll recommend one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get started with Backyard Birding. I found out that it really doesn't have to be that complicated after all.