Bird watching was a hobby that my parents used to do together. And once I came along, they included me in this hobby. As a baby and young toddler, I was strapped into a sling or toted on shoulders as my parents explored the woods around our small Texas town. When I was old enough to walk along, I would watch them pack a bag with bird books, binoculars, owl calls, and their camera to take with us on our journey. They would plan out which birds they would like to see, and which ones they had already spotted. My dad could whistle the different sound and trills of the chickadee or the tufted titmouse. Then we would head out to the area we called "the bluffs", a wooded area perfect for bird watching. I remember walking quietly along, sometimes feeling bored, sometimes feeling a deep peace and inner calm. My parents would choose a spot to stop and silently look around, binoculars held up to their eyes. They would take out the tape recorder with different owl calls and play the eerie and beautiful sounds to attract other birds. They were hunters. Not hunters with guns or arrows, trying to bring back a prize. They were hunters armed with respect for the animals God created and a desire to find beauty in their graceful, quiet lives.
The Painted Bunting As I looked through my parents' bird books, I always thought it was the prettiest of all the birds.