But birds, I’m finding, are a slippery slope.
Before I moved to Australia, I couldn’t identify any local birds in my suburban D.C. neighborhood beyond the ubiquitous robin, cardinal, and blue jay. In Australia though, the birds are so colorful and noisy, how could I ignore them?
I identified the common, brightly colored ones first, like the crimson rosella, galah, and king parrot.
My daughter bought me a bird-matching card game for my birthday, and every family trip began to include aviaries and bird sanctuaries. I tried to share my fascination with my family.
“Look,” I said one day, waving my phone triumphantly. “I got a picture of a yellow-tailed black cockatoo today!”
“And they’re black,” my husband added.
A week later, I spent hours trying to identify a bird I’d tracked from tree to tree at the front entrance of our community. I consulted bird books, websites, and countless online photo galleries.
“I think,” I announced to my family, “that it’s a red wattlebird.”
My daughter squinted at my photo. “It isn’t red.”
“It’s sort of red,” I said. “There, by the beak. That’s a little red.”
My husband took a look. “And it doesn’t have a wattle.”
But they were right, so I spent more hours trying to identify that bird. I came up with nothing.
I think I’m a birder. An lazy, unaccomplished one maybe, but still a birder.
Next stop, stamp collecting.
Update to this post: about six weeks after this post was written, I found out that the bird above was indeed a red wattlebird. Next time, I'll have more faith in my identification.