Looking back to last New Year ’s Day, I am amazed at the difference one year can make in a person’s life. There have been major changes in my life this year. Among them are where I live, work, and play. I’ve had to make adjustments and revisions in the ways that I define myself. I’m no longer a Pennsylvanian, but an Arizonan; I don’t work at RACC, but at Pima Community College, I’m not a homeowner, but an apartment dweller; I no longer scout the maples and pines for robins and Blue Jays, but the saguaros and mesquites for Roadrunners and wrens. Although the birds I see on a regular basis have changed, my love of “chase and identify” has not. Birding has been one of the few constants in my life. It may ebb and flow depending on how busy the rest of my life is at the moment, but it is always at the undercurrent of how I define myself.
Last year, my first bird was a Tufted Titmouse and as I sit here reflecting on the past year, I realize I hadn’t thought about that little bird for quite some time. I couldn’t always distinguish between a titmouse and a chickadee by the chip call and sometimes, a titmouse would fool me into thinking it was something totally different by singing an unfamiliar song like the time when I lived on Filbert Ave and called it my “Deedee- do-dee” bird for a year before I discovered it was a tufted titmouse singing. I do miss the thrill those few over-wintering birds gave me. The titmice, chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, cardinals and Blue Jays gave me hope that spring would surely come soon even though I knew the worst weather of the year was yet to come. It’s somewhat comforting to know that even though I have had lots of changes in my life, those birds are still there as they have been for years and years before I was born.
Enough looking backward! I’m so happy to be living in a place where the birds from the colder places migrate TO instead of FROM! The end of 2006 brought lots of new bids to my life list and I know that 2007 will bring more. I suppose that I must count the once-exciting, but now ever-present Gila Woodpecker as my first bird of 2007 since I heard him before my eyes opened this morning. He made me smile as he always does when I hear him. During my morning run, I remembered it was New Year’s Day and ALL the birds counted today. I easily found Mourning Doves, English Sparrows, Gambel’s Quail, Phainopepla, Northern Mockingbird, Greater Roadrunner, American Kestrel, Curve-billed Thrasher, House Finch, Rock Pigeon, Lesser Goldfinch and not a few Gilas. Here's to good birding all through the year. Cheers!