I'm a lazy, novice bird-watcher and enjoy it.
Lazy, because it's not like I hike around the Black Hills or prairie with binoculars and Nikon camera, craning my neck for the rare Canadian albino warbler nest or crawling on my hands and knees to peek over the hill for a glimpse of a burrowing owl. Lazy, because I hang a couple bird feeders outside my kitchen window, fill them up once in a while and watch the birds while I eat my Mini-Wheats in the morning.
Occasionally, I lift my phone and take a picture of a pretty bird through the dirty window and wonder why National Geographic hasn't called.
Such was the case the other day when I saw a bird I've never seen before or don't remember seeing before. Sure, I could've seen it yesterday and forgotten, but I really don't remember ever seeing this kind of bird in South Dakota or anywhere. Ever.
Before calling National Geographic or the CIA or whoever you call with a new discovery, I consulted my handy-dandy "Birds of the Dakotas" book I keep on the end table. My wife thinks it's nerdy, but it sits next to her Soduko book, so let's be real about nerd status in this house.
I like the book because it's so simple an idiot could use it. The birds are organized by color. There's even a color code on the side of the pages. But do I look under yellow or do I look under black?
There was nothing under the yellow pages, so my anticipation grew as to what this black bird with the yellow head might be called, if it had been discovered at all. What would they call such a rare bird? Probably something clever, as ornithologists are very clever people.
I began paging through the black pages. And there I found it, my heart saank. It had been discovered, probably by Lewis or Clark or maybe Custer.
And what unique name did they come up with for this yellow-headed black bird? So many options. Well, the geniuses, named it, get ready for this: the Yellow-headed Blackbird.
Really, buddy? How long did that take you?
My respect for ornithologists just dropped.
I should not have been surprised. After all, these are the same people who named a bird after the baseball team in St. Louis.
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