60 birdwatchersdigest.com • MARCH/APRIL’ 17 • BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST
of Florida do. We hit the road,
hoping the bird would still be
where it shouldn’t be.
We were barely housebroken
birders, wearing hats advertising
a bird festival from nine years ago
and pants with so many pockets
that no one lacking a math degree
could estimate their number.
While standing on a road and
peering into a wet field, hoping
to see a first-state-record bird,
we encountered another birding
hick. He was searching for the
sandpiper by looking up and say-
ing, “Please, Lord, let me see this
“I didn’t know you were a reli-
gious fellow,” said Seymour.
“I’m not, but I’m willing to
become one to see this bird,” the
Birding is easy, but not as easy
as not birding. Birding is all about
patience. Patience and biting
insects, ticks, chiggers, sunburn,
mysterious rashes, stiff necks, wet
feet, chapped lips, frostbitten fingers, icy eyelashes, and spider web
I attended a Mensa meeting
once. I used a fake IQ to get in.
It was an interesting group. I
confessed to being a birder and
to having a temporary tattoo of
a tricolored heron proudly displayed where no one could see it.
They asked if I had questions. I
did. I asked if any of them were
birders. None was. That proves
that it doesn’t take a genius to be
I recall leading a bird hike at
Banning State Park in Minnesota
when mosquitoes were holding
a national convention there. The
park was filled with out-of-town
mosquitoes. We swatted them and
slapped gnats. Birding aerobics.
I warned a long-time human,
first-time birder that he needed
to be aware that once he started
birding, he might be hooked for
life. He smashed a squadron of
blood-filled mosquitoes with
a single smack of his hand to
the middle of his forehead and
replied, “I think I could quit any-
time I want.”
I’m thankful that I couldn’t do
Seymour came to birding natu-
rally. He watched a birder bird.
His father is the Will Rogers of
birding. He’s never seen a bird he
didn’t like. This veteran of epic
birding adventures is fond of
telling novice birders, “It’s okay
if people say you can’t bird, but
don’t let them say that you didn’t
His father always looks tired.
He’s the Abe Vigoda of birding.
He doesn’t like going to a doctor.
Seymour makes the appointments
for him. We arrived back home
just in time to put Seymour’s
father next to a spotting scope in
the backseat of the car and take
him to his doctor’s appointment.
Seymour had told him that we
were going birding.
It wasn’t long before we heard
this from the backseat, “Hey!
This isn’t the way to the sewage
Al Batt is a writer, speaker,
storyteller, and humorist. His first
book is a collection of his stories,
A Life Gone to the Birds, published by BWD Press.