Field Guides and Hobbies

“Oh! I hope I see this one!” Gleek’s finger pointed to the blue and black glossy picture. She flipped a few pages over and saw my handwritten note “You’ve seen this?” she gasped. I watched my daughter flip through my field identification guide for western birds, and she squeed over pictures with as much enthusiasm as she sometimes spends on anime stories and characters.

I fell in love with bird watching when I took a field biology class in high school. It was a hobby that often lay idle, but never completely forgotten. I’ve attempted to share it several times with my kids, but either they were too young, or they didn’t have the passion for it that I did. Also the best bird watching occurs long before they wanted to be out of bed.

This evening Gleek was packing for her five day trip to Girl’s Camp. The packing list said “journal” and Gleek remembered that she had a nature journal which teaches about observation and note taking in the natural world. The nature journal had a list of things to pack for an observation trip, one of the items was a field guide. So I raided my shelf. I handed over a book about Utah butterflies and another about Utah flowers. Then I loaned her my second best bird book. I couldn’t quite bring myself to let her take the one with all my notes in it. That one is a record of the birds I’ve seen and when. It has my bird count.

Maybe she’ll get to camp and find a hundred things to do which are not using field guides to identify the nature around her. Or maybe she’ll discover, as I did, that the world only feels more magical when you know the names for what you are seeing. Either way, I’ll get to hear her stories when she returns. And maybe in months to come I might have a bird watching buddy for a few early morning trips.