For the Birds

Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?


Few among us can report an encounter with Bigfoot, or really with any cryptid of equal reputation, but I came pretty close. It was a sweltering day in Atlanta, temperature somewhere in the high eighties. The iced tea in my stomach was nearing boiling point as I clawed through thorny underbrush and sidestepped over kudzu, on the prowl in an urban wilderness known as the Lake Claire Community Land Trust. Composed of several households’ backyards, this greenspace spans about 1.7 acres, and houses ample wild trees and bushes - the perfect location for my hunt.

On me was a pair of military-grade binoculars, which I held trained on a flock of house finches. They are a dream for birdwatchers like me: adorable, easily recognized, highly prevalent, and very energetic. And that’s not to mention their bravery, for finches tend to stay put and allow themselves to be observed, unlike the bashful mourning doves who flutter away nervously the second I approach. But even my darling finches must have grown tired of me, for in an instant, they took to the air and flew in a scattered swarm somewhere beyond my line of sight.

I plowed on, binoculars up, hoping to catch a glance of something feathery. I wasn’t paying much attention to my feet, who...

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