Travel Theme: Birds

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A mourning dove outside our kitchen window

First a quick note about the new format here on The Nature of Things.  In response to a couple of comments about the indistinct text on the previous format, I’ve changed to this new one which I hope is a little clearer.

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A goldfinch at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Ailsa’s Travel Theme challenge this week on Where’s My Backpack? at http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/12/27/travel-theme-birds/ is Birds.

Perching Bird

A lucky capture in Florida.

Despite suffering from ornithophobia almost my entire life, I have a considerable interest in birds and love to take pictures of them whenever I can. This usually involves using long lenses, very often behind the safety of a window, and sometimes, if I’m outside, having someone with me to frighten them off if they get too close.

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In our garden

One year I planted a particular type of Brazilian Sage in our garden in order to attract hummingbirds and had so many of them arrive that summer that I was almost a prisoner in my own home because I was too afraid to have them buzzing around my head while I was outside.

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A purple finch in our garden

The other day I went to the local hardware store to purchase bird seed for the feeders and couldn’t get anywhere near the bags because some sparrows had found their way into the shop and were all over it! How bad is that!

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A cedar waxwing in Florida

I think it’s the fluttering that scares me.  I’m not so bad with larger birds such as swans or ducks or even crows which I find very interesting to watch, but smaller varieties in close proximity usually have me screaming and running for shelter.  One of the biggest drawbacks to going downtown, for me, is having to run the blockade of pigeons that habitually march up and down the sidewalks.  They have no fear and I’m not the only pedestrian to be seen ducking and dodging these feathered pests.

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A heron in the pool at River Trails Nature Center

I’m quite proud of myself if I manage to take a reasonably clear picture of a bird outside in the open. It means that I’ve been able to hold the camera without shaking too much and have been able to stay close enough to the subject without shrieking and running away.

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 A rooster sees me off the premises in Wisconsin

I tried to conquer this fear when I was growing up, braving the terrors of a holiday farm hen-house, only to have a chicken rise up squawking into my face as I reached for some brown, speckled eggs and setting my rehabilitation back to exactly where it was some 10 years previously. I doubt I will ever lose this fear now; it seems to get worse as I get older and is very inconvenient but so long as I have a camera with a long lens and a window to hide behind, I’ll keep taking pictures.

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8 thoughts on “Travel Theme: Birds

  1. What an interesting bit of awareness…to be afraid and fascinated at the same time. Probably true of so many of us, actually. Thanks for being willing to share this and courageous in doing so.

  2. You are not alone, Sue. I suffer from this phobia also. I love birds but am afraid of the flapping. I’ve tried to rid myself of the fear by standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square in London – notorious for thousands of pigeons – and also by becoming acquainted with quite tame blackbirds in the garden who would have taken food from my hands if I had been brave enough.

    Like you, I think at my age I probably won’t get rid of this phobia – it is ingrained. I remember my mother and an older sibling being similarly frightened. It doesn’t make sense – but to run away inside to safety seems to be an instant gut reaction. I do empathise, totally.

    • Thanks for your comment, Meanderer! It’s reassuring to know that there are other people out there with a similar problem. I was told two versions of what happened to me when I was just a toddler; one was that I blundered into a bush in the garden and startled a flock of sparrows that flew out at me, and the other was that I accidentally disturbed a pheasant in some long grass, which had the same effect, and if you’ve ever seen a rocketing pheasant you’ll understand why it scared the pants off me. Whatever the reason, it’s a major pain in the neck!

      One of my biggest regrets is that I cannot sit at an outdoor restaurant or café since, around here, they are usually frequented by our feathered chums hopping about looking for handouts.

      • Ha,ha – yes: I know what it’s like to be in the midst of pheasants suddenly fly out from cover – a real cacophany of squawking and flying feathers! Must have been terrifying for a small child.

        I can’t recall where my fear started – maybe by watching other family members’ reactions.

        I also have to move if, when sitting outside with a picnic, the little fellas come along hoping for crumbs. I will leave the crumbs for them but will then scarper. It’s so sad as I love birds and would love to be able to sit easily with them fluttering around.

        How strange our reactions are to certain stimuli. I wonder whether it is anything to do with being a quiet sensitive child – alert and sensitive to noise,commotion and fluster of all sorts.

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