Everyone should be a birder

Linda and I have been avid birders for about 20 years, but I wish we had started much earlier than that. Checking out the birds adds to every trip and outdoor adventure.

We started when a friend of Linda’s was birding in our yard. It turns out, because we’re surrounded by water and woods, that we have ideal habitat for lots of different birds. For example, we seen over 20 species of warblers in our yard.

These days, because of my illness, ALS, I am unable to bird, but every morning I enjoy my newspaper and coffee sitting at our large window in the kitchen looking out at Linda’s beautiful flower gardens and birdfeeders which draw lots of different birds. I especially love the stunning goldfinches and our resident cardinal.

We’ve worked to make sure we didn’t become obsessed with birdwatching, but we have kept a life’s list, and enjoyed birding on many of our trips. We eventually visited Texas four times and Arizona twice to see birds.

We especially enjoyed the amazing Hoopos in Italy (I’ll include a photo of a Hoopo with this column). We had a fantastic experience in Costa Rica, where some friends built a house in a remote area and let us stay there for a week. To get there we actually had to drive through a river because there was no bridge. The first morning we walked out into the driveway and saw the most exotic birds we’d ever seen.

But you don’t have to travel out of Maine to enjoyed birding. We rented a house for several years in South Lubec, right near the South Lubec beach, which our friend and birding guide Bob Duchesne told us is the best place to see migrating shorebirds in our state. And boy, was he right about that!

At our camp in the north woods, on the edge of Baxter Park, we would see unusual birds including Spruce Grouse and Boreal Chickadees.

But you don’t have to travel to enjoyed birding. Get out in your yard with a pair of binoculars and a bird book and enjoy those birds!


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.