Posts Tagged ‘wigeons’

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” – Michael Caine

The flock of American wigeons I saw recently that reminded me of my five-year search for its Eurasion cousin. -- Poor photo by Pat Bean

Bird Talk

My kids tell me I have a better memory for where I’ve seen a new bird species than I do for their birthdays. Well, they’re wrong. I know the dates they were born very well. They just think I don’t because of how often I forget what day it is.

They are right, however, in thinking that I can remember where and when I’ve seen a new bird for my life bird list, which I started back on April 10, 1999.

The first bird on it is an American avocet. It and the next 67 birds on it were all seen when I went on a guided bird tour to Deseret Ranch in Northern Utah. I tagged along as a reporter assigned to do a story on sage grouse.

It was the first time I kept a list of the birds I saw — and the day I became a birder. I give

An American wigeon, a species that can be found all across the United States. -- Wikipedia photo

all credit for my newly found passion and addiction to birdwatching to Mark Stackhouse, who led the tour.

After I had listed the 67 birds, and had decided I would start my bird list, I did a very foolish thing. I added a Eurasian wigeon to the list.

A few years earlier, when I had been following Congressman Jim Hanson around during one of  his visits to Northern Utah, he made a stop at what was commonly known as the Millionaire’s Duck Club, a private hunting club located adjacent to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

Everyone was all excited that day because someone had spotted a rare Eurasian wigeon through a roof-top telescope. I was invited to take a look, and the wigeon became part of the story I eventually wrote. With written proof that I had seen the bird, I didn’t think twice about adding it to my list.

Eurasion wigeons, which can normally be found in winter along U.S. coastal areas. -- Wikipedia photo

But then I got into the spirit of birding, and realized I wouldn’t recognize a Eurasian wigeon if it dropped down from the sky five feet in front of me. And I knew that I didn’t want any bird on my list that I hadn’t personally identified. But to take it off, would be to mess up the entire order of my list.

It took me five years before I did finally see this duck. It was Oct. 4, 2004, in Yellowstone National Park. What a great day that was. And I remember it as well as I remember the days my children were born.

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