How Does Birding Make You Feel?

I’ve been working on my vision board and re-reading the article from the magazine I got it from. It asks you to go beyond your goal (their example: living in the country) to why you have it. How does e.g. living in the country make you feel? I asked myself that with regard to my relentless pursuit of lifers. Why do I chase lifers? What does it represent to me, and how does it make me feel?

  • adventure: I love travel and seeing new things. Before I got seriously into birding in undergrad, I got into hiking. I always wanted to see a new trail and where it would lead. Exploring gives me life!
  • motivation: looking for lifers gives you a reason to explore places you might not otherwise seek.
  • immersing in nature: seeing stuff in the natural world has long been my favorite type of thing to see. I loved playing in nature as a kid, and I used to make “aquariums” with the aquatic life in our backyard stream. My dad got me interested in backyard birds. When I was in high school, I was the president of the astronomy club, and spent many nights sky-watching.
  • wonder: the “new” always brings the unexpected. Seeing a lifer is only half the story. You see e.g. a characteristic flight pattern, or hear a call you’ve never heard before. If you go to a new place to see a lifer, you know there’s something “hidden” there, and that’s exhilarating!
  • mindfulness: paying enough attention to find a lifer means you’re in the moment. Especially if you travel to see a lifer, you’re surrounded by new sensory experiences! It’s easy to be present.
  • deepening knowledge: birds are my favorite thing, so looking for lifers includes learning about a new species before, during and after. I love the excuse to dive deep into the literature in anticipation of seeing a new species. Then, the observation often yields a lot of new ideas and curiosities, which leads to followup questions and research.

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