I learned a new birding term from Roana yesterday: "spark bird," which is "the bird that got you into birding." The cool thing is that I actually HAVE a spark bird; I didn't forget or just wander into birding.
I had always loved birds and nature, but shortly after we moved into the Marsh House in 2005, I was sitting in my back doorway, looking out at the marsh. There was barely any purple loosestrife then, so I could see a lot of little patches of cattails, short marsh grasses, all kinds of things. (sigh) Anyway, I noticed a little group of redwinged blackbirds making some squawking noises and flying in a little area just over the ground. I got my binocs and saw this weird brown bird that looked kinda like a small crane, sticking its long beak straight into the air. I ran and grabbed a book that I'd bought only a couple of months before -- a 1940s edition of Peterson's Field Guide to Eastern Birds. I stared at the bird, looked at the book, stared at the bird, looked at the book -- and ID'd my first bird that wasn't a cardinal or a bluejay or a robin.
Since then, I've seen American bitterns out on the marsh and in Cape May. A very experienced birder I know and respect told me that it's rare to actually see American bitterns because they hide so well. I've seen them lots of times! He also said that there are only 5 confirmed breeding records for this upcoming Breeding Bird Atlas, and that my marsh was the first one. My report!
After that day, I was totally hooked on birding. Shortly thereafter, I started this blog. It makes me smile just to think of it -- my bittern, my little blog, and birds.
What was your spark bird?