Where the Wild Things Aren't

This weekend, I spent a little time outdoors. Birding.

Let's just clarify something: although I work with wild animals, 75% of them birds, I am a terrible birder. I walk around the park watching for fluttering wings and listening for the tweets and whistles that herald the presence of my feathery friends.

After about 30 seconds I get distracted by a particularly mossy log that might be hiding a salamander. I turn the log over and usually don't find my salamander, but then I see a rock, and I think bingo! There will be a salamander under there. So I put the log back, carefully preserving the hiding places of the salamanders that were actually out of the house shopping when I called.

I turn over the rock, and find nothing. But I see a puddle that could contain a frog.

And on and on it goes, until I remember I was supposed to be looking for birds. Then I hear the magical tweet of a bird and stare upwards for several long minutes trying to find the source of the noise. Usually, it flies away before I see it. When I do see it, it is either hiding behind a bunch of branches and I can't make it out, or it is moving too quickly for me to find it with my enormous binoculars.

Then I trip over a mossy log. Salamanders!

My favorite place to go birding is the coast. Seabirds are big and pretty, they float in the middle of an empty stretch of water that has almost no branches or leaves, and all I have to do is scan the water with my enormous binoculars, and I will see some of them. When I am birding on the coast, I am usually on sand or rock, upon which salamanders do not generally live.

So now that I've explained, here's what I saw this weekend: a song sparrow, a robin, and a squirrel. It was magical, as you can tell.

On somewhat related news, a boat sank and there was a minor contaminant spill in West Seattle this weekend. As far as we know, disaster was averted. No contaminated birds were brought to us, but that doesn't mean there aren't any that need help.

So if you happen to be walking the beaches this week, keep an eye out for dark, sandy piles of feathers. They might be birds that need your help.

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