Yay! My computer is fixed. Now on to the topic of the day…
All birders have what I like to call Birding Attention Deficit Disorder, otherwise known as BADD (no, the irony of that acronym has not escaped me). When Forrest and I are hiking somewhere in Paradise Valley, or when we are driving the scenic Beartooth Pass, or even when we’re floating down the Madison River in a couple of tubes, I love watching him watch birds. This hobby may sound boring to many of you, but I promise – it’s not. Watching a birder watch birds is essentially the same as watching a seven year old with ADD, a plastic gun strapped to his back, find his way through a black-lit laser tag course in which a kitten is hidden in every nook or cranny (also, the refills of Mountain Dew are endless and he’s snorting lines of blue Pixie Stix dust). Their eyes dart everywhere, their hands start shaking, their nostrils flare – the whole shebang. Portrait of a Birder. I think that will be the title of my first novel…
But to get back to the topic of BADD, it is a simple truth: all birders have it. Not-so-deep-down, all birders have a seven year old suffering from ADD inside of them, but they can focus on one thing like no other: birds. BADD could also be a factor in the stereotype that portrays birders as completely and utterly socially awkward, incapable of holding a “normal” conversation that does not include talk of migration patterns, display techniques, or how damn difficult it is to differentiate between gulls. I like to think of birders as Star Wars nerds, only their Force consists of finding, identifying, and photographing these tweeting, flying, magical little creatures in the sky – all while giving you (the wife) a detailed verbal play-by-play.
I’m quite certain that in the beginning of my relationship with Forrest, he tried to hide this disorder of his and pushed down the BADD long enough to hold a few “Let’s get to know each other” conversations; however, this phase of our relationship did not last for very long, and soon I found myself driving down lovely Highway 89 with this wonderful man in the passenger’s seat, attempting to gain more information about his likes, dislikes, and thoughts on life in general (you know – all of those “I’ve been in this relationship a year” questions that determine whether you could see yourself with this person forever). As we were talking and enjoying the scenery on this particular drive, I had this epiphany: all of the important conversations we were having as of late were punctuated with his verbal outbursts regarding the random birds that crossed our path – the BADD had finally reared its head.
Honestly, I wish I had a stenographer sitting in the back of the vehicle some days, just so I could go back and read all of the ridiculous conversations we’ve had that ultimately ended in – you guessed it – talking about birds. And if I had to take a guess, I assume that we have sounded a lot like this:
G – If you could teleport, where would you go at this very instant?
F – That’s a great question. Honestly, I—SANDHILL CRANE!
G – Oh, nice spot!
F – Yeah, you can see how the da da da dee blah dee blah on its beak and the way it wah wah wah wah waaaah wahs on its long legs. So badass.
G – Mmmhmmm…
F – What were we talking about?
G – I can’t remember…what do you think about our country’s welfare system?
F – Well, I have some pretty strong opinions on the matter, but on the whole—WHAT IS THAT? Holy shit. Slow down a little bit. NO, actually, pull off to the side of the road here. Oh my God, oh my God. *gets out binoculars* No waaaay. It’s a Rough-legged Hawk! What’s that little guy doing here so late? You see, baby, this hawk migrates blah dee blah dee blah wah wah wah waaah, so it really shouldn’t be here right now. It really should be further north because waaaah waaaaaah waaaaaaaaah.
G – Awesome. Do you think you’ll ever want to have kids?
F – Sorry – what did you say? HOLY SHIT! Was that a Gray Partridge down there?! Look! She’s right there! Get the f*ck out of here! No waaaaaay. I can’t believe this is happening right now…
You see, friends, if you know a birder or are getting to know a birder it’s important to recognize this one little fact: all birders have BADD, and every time they leave their homes (or even take a quick peek out of the window) they are instantaneously on a full-blown birding adventure. For birders, there are distractions everywhere, and they don’t miss a one of them. And they simply love telling you about whatever they spot, which at times can be very endearing, but other times it can be difficult to hold a focused conversation (and you may feel compelled to strangle him or drink a beer – or both).
So how, you might ask, do you get your birding friend or significant other to pay more attention to you and answer your deep, philosophical, big life questions without the constant BADD interruptions? Well, the first step is to step out of your delusion because it’s not happening! Just accept that you’ll have whatever important conversation you need to have at a later date. BADD is incurable, so the best thing to do is what you would do in any healthy relationship: be patient, kind, and receptive. Give in to the birding insanity – you may even learn something in the midst of all the BADD.
For instance, I recently learned that there is such a bird called the Cowbird, and this species is full of bastards – bastards, I tell you (quite literally, now that I think about it). What these awful little on-the-go birds do is lay their eggs in another unsuspecting bird’s nest. The ignorant little bird, whether it be a vireo or tanager, keeps the Cowbird’s eggs warm and doesn’t even realize that she’s been taking care of a stranger’s egg until it hatches (revealing the demon seed itself), at which point it’s too late – a bond has already been formed between the unsuspecting mother and the stupid little Cowbird baby. But that’s not even the worst part! Sometimes the Cowbird parent comes back to the nest when the adopted mom is gone and – yep – kills the adopted siblings of their bastard child – slaughters the other babies in the nest! I mean, Cowbirds are too awful to take care of their own offspring, so they pawn them off on a good-hearted little bird (who keeps them warm, feeds them, nurtures them), and then BAM! Out of nowhere that nasty Cowbird comes back, gives their kid(s) a little “What up? How’s the nest, yo?” and then murders the other babies. I mean, WTF? Cowbirds are bastards. I told you.
Wait though – hold on, hold on. No…way…is that a Red-Headed Woodpecker?!…Let me tell you something super cool about this little guy…
And did I mention BADD may be contagious?