The Saturday after Christmas I participated in my first bird count. We got to the forest before the sunrise and waited outside the nesting holes for these little woodpeckers to wake up. We waited. It was important for us to count these birds because there are so few of them left. We needed them in our count. They came out and flew to a tree where they met with their friends, a morning chat, and then off in to the forest. The Red-cockaded Woodpecker, it was kinda a thrill to see an endangered animal in the wild and even more so because I was with people who were so devoted to the birds.
The rest of the morning was spent walking through the forest in the drizzly gray with a pair of binoculars. I was what they called a spotter. I wasn't much help with identification. I just pointed at birds. Everyone was generous with their bird knowledge. They tried to help me with identifying by sound, "You hear that one it goes poe-TATE-oh-chip, that's a goldfinch." and told me stories of how they fell in love with birds. One guy carried around an ipod with bird calls on it and would trick the birds into coming out and letting us see them. I don't think I will ever be a hardcore birder but for a day I enjoyed the company of the bird people.