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Lessons from a Birdbrain

Migration Celebration

Laura McDermott

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Ratgeber / Natur


Lessons from a Birdbrain, Migration Celebration introduces you to 21 birds that can be found migrating through Ohio during spring and fall.  I took the photos in various locations, largely central Ohio from late September to December.  You will notice a wide variation in the quality of the photos because I am a novice photographer.  And like the birds migrating through, I'm still growing and transforming and let's face it, some phases of my transformation are lovelier than others.

Along with each bird, I include a "birdbrain" lesson that introduces a concept that resonated with me and I associated with the bird and photo mentioned.  These are simple things that for whatever reason, I didn't really learn until later in life when I learned to slow my mind a bit using techniques of mindfulness.  Or I need to learn again (and again) to catch on.

Birding and mindfulness go hand in hand for me because when I am out birding with my camera and binocs I am focused.  I am present and intently tuned in to the world around me.  And the moment I go to take a photo, I am 100% dedicated to the task at hand quite literally focusing (well attempting to focus...I'm a very novice photographer so sometimes it works better than others.)  I imagine it similar to an athlete in a critical moment of a game, where time slows briefly, I still my breath and zoom in for the win.  Too corny?  Maybe...but it works for me.  

In my attempts to get great pictures of birds, I also learn repeatedly the lessons of attachment, expectations, success and failure.  I can't control what birds will be around when I go out, what the light will be when the perfect bird lands in my range or even if my camera battery is about to konk out. I can prepare, I can plan but I can't force outcomes.  And I can learn to take the failures in stride OR I can brood, crank, stomp and whine.  This ability to allow brief moments of disappointment or elation to pass has been a key for me to rise above the tendency I have to get caught up in a thought groove, good or bad.

The greatest gift I've received from birding is that ability to step aside and "see" my thoughts and feelings from a distance, so to speak. 

I have specifically selected 21 chapters to coincide with the number of days it takes us humans to have a habit begin to take hold.  During the course of 21 days, I encourage you to read a chapter and reflect on the lesson at hand.  Can you step aside and let a worry pass because worrying is just wasted energy?  Can you mindfully experience a precious moment more fully by recognizing its impermanence?  Spring and fall are particularly transitional in Ohio and the birds who travel through at the time are fleeting in every sense of the word.

More important than finding a warbler you've never seen before, I hope you find a "birdbrained" lesson or two or ten that speak to you.  In other words, you hear the right idea at the right time in your life that allows you to step aside from your thoughts, get untangled from a feeling and regain balance and serenity from the lesson that bird(s) bring(s).



spring, mindfulness, birding, migration, Ohio, beginner