Sunday, February 10, 2008

The GBBC--more than just a number

There’s a little chickadee I look for every morning—identifiable by his bright white tail.
And, although he’s just one of a million others of his kind, he’s the one I’m able to recognize as he flits through our woods to visit the feeders.
He’s the one I miss, when he’s not here.

I wonder about the billions and trillions (?) of living things categorized into neat groups we casually call “bugs” or “frogs” or “birds.” And the many people who never think of them as being more distinct than that—never learn to recognize each for their differences.
Never seeing more than the group.
A frog is simply a frog.
Nothing more.

It’s easier to walk past, not knowing their name.
And not care.

The Great Backyard Bird Count, GBBC, is next weekend. And though it is promoted as “citizen science,” a way for regular people to contribute to research efforts, it’s more than that.
It’s an exercise in seeing beyond the group.
Taking apart the word, “bird,” and being specific about each we see.
Giving each a name.

For with a name, comes significance.
And with understanding, comes care.

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Larry said...

Nice Chickadee with the white tail!Very well put.-You turned a promotion into something artistic.

Lynne said...

I've heard that expression before- give it a name and it gains importance. I believe that.

ncmountainwoman said...

How true. A name makes all the difference. For birds, animals and people.

I love your blog and have become a regular reader, and I need to know something. Is your name pronounced with a long "I" or as if it were spelled neena? Somehow I don't like the idea of thinking of you with the wrong pronounciation, even if we never speak directly. I've heard the name pronounced both ways.

Mary said...

And I'm trying to name them - the birds, frogs, lizards, after years of neglecting them. You are right, Nina. Naming them establishes a relationship.

The GBBC sounds like something I'd like to try this year.

Sandpiper said...

Lovely postings over the past few days, Nina. I loved the ice puddles, the Sidewalk Going To Nowhere, and this ADORABLE little chickadee! Good thought about naming, too.

Pellice said...

We human beings are made to name, sort, and categorize. It's just the way our brains are formed - maybe all the mammals and birds are the same. Even the smallest of differences jumps out at us as a clue.

During the intermissions of those Saturday afternoon opera radio broadcasts, there is an "opera quiz." I was astonished to hear the host play one or two notes, and then tell the listeners: "smiles all around! Everybody recognizes THAT!"

As you so well illustrate, stepping outside one's door can become an experience like Dorothy's emerging into Oz, a world of color and exquisite detail.

It's like that for me now with the birds, I poke my head out and am instantly aware of all of them within hearing or sight. But, not so the plantlife - yet! It's still a blur, green or brown as the season dictates. I wish to make all those plants as colorful and meaningful as the birdlife. I want to know their names.


Anonymous said...

You reminded me of a couple of individuals we have gotten to know at Audubon... Wobbly Goose, Broken Goose, New Goose, of course... But there was this Water Snake with a broken tail that we called Stubby and a Chipmunk that came to the bird feeder with a similar condition... We called him Stubby, too....

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This is oh so true Nina.

Mary said...

I agree about naming "things" and they gain importance. Nature should be so much more important to people than it is. We have to care about all that beauty before we destroy it. I'll be counting birds for the bird count.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Hello there Nina.. I called by to say thank you for your visit and comment over on my post today.. but I see many things here that I could or would have taken.. I'll link back here so I can follow your post if that is O.K. with you.

Chatch you again real soon

joey said...

Thanks you for the kind words, Nina. You have some lovely photos also. I see we are both Thoreau lovers ...

Suzy said...

Hi, Nina. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog today! I love chickadees. Here in Wisconsin in February, I am waiting to hear the cardinals ... one of my personal signs of spring.

kate said...

How true that is - I'm looking forward to hearing how your GBBC goes nexxt weekend. I'll be lucky if I see three birds all day long (unless the weather warms).

nina said...

Larry--I look forward to seeing him, I think that comes from knowing him best

Lynne--yes, and the same reason we don't name farm animals that have a future as food--too hard to not care about something with a name!

ncmountainwoman--thanks for asking about MY name--I'm the "neenah" option, though everyone around here, (the southern influence) mistakes it as Nyna

Mary--you have GOT to do the GBBC, you'll love the closeness it demands!

Sandpiper--old house, out in the country--there's always something!

Pellice--a perfect illustration of the pleasure that comes with recognition--doesn't it make the world so much richer to be able to see so much in detail!?

Winterwoman--we have a squirrel named "stumpy", maybe he knows "stubby?"

Lisa--are you GBBCing this weekend?

Mary--yes, caring can only come after seeing--how do we get people to see?

wom--thanks for the visit, it's nice to compare across the miles!

joey--yes, I'm thoroughly into thoreau

suzy--cardinals are so abundant here, they're the state bird, I'll shoo some up your way for a treat!

Kate--you should count, too--is Canada in the survey? (I'll have to check) but I'd think even seeing NO birds is "data"