“Welcome to town. I’m Red Crossbill.”

I don’t like traveling. I like having traveled. There’s a difference. My writer friends tell me they don’t like writing; they like having written. I understand.

But back to traveling. One thing that makes traveling okay is that you get to see a different class of birds.

Not that I arrive with binoculars in hand. I don’t think about birds at first when visiting somewhere new. I start out interested in the place. The architecture, people, cars.

Different regional vegetation stands out, too. After leaving Chicago, the foliage you see in the south, west or mountain states can remind you of the planet where they filmed Avatar.

(As a quick aside, did you know they have palm trees in Ireland? Nobody believes me. I’ve seen them. It may be cold and wet, but it stays above freezing and that’s what the palms need.)

Back to birds. Back to America, either the bottom half or the mountain part. Was that a Black-billed Magpie? We don’t get them in Chicago. Or any other kind of magpies.

On a trip to Colorado I saw a Red Crossbill. I’d only been there an hour and I noticed a fat reddish bird with a screwy beak in a pine tree. I said, “That’s a first.”

The bird replied, “Welcome to Colorado, guy. I’m Red Crossbill. Good to make your acquaintance.” Or so I imagined.

I hadn’t gone to the Rockies to see birds. I had business. But without trying, I saw a few more magpies that day and a rust-colored Rufous Hummingbird, another first. One day there was a Golden Eagle overhead. I got a photo of a Clark’s Nutcracker. But that’s not the point.

The point is that birds make travel interesting. They’re like an outdoor mini-bar. The mini-bar in your room is fun. You don’t have those little booze bottles and cans of nuts when you’re home.

And outside the hotel, you can see birds that you don’t have back home either.

4 Responses to ““Welcome to town. I’m Red Crossbill.””

  1. Gizhawk says:

    I’ve seen the palm trees in Ireland!! I was shocked too. And I agree that birds make travel interesting…. a “robin” in Scotland doesn’t look like a “robin” here in the US, for example.

  2. Patrick Webb says:

    Up until 8 months ago, I would have never paid attention to what birds I might come across on my trips. I just had a business trip to Las Vegas two weeks ago. I happened to come across a very loud bird in the parking lot of an office building where we were having training for a couple days. I whipped out my iphone with ibird app and figured out it was a Great Tailed Grackle. Nicely added to my very meager lifelist. I now enjoy finding the unexpected when birding isn’t the objective.

  3. Pandy says:

    Who, in their right mind, likes to travel lately? Getting there is laborious, boring, uncomfortable and enervating. Being there is interesting, colorful, energizing and exhausting (in a good way). We don’t HAVE to travel (I’m not including business, I weep for those individuals), and yet we seem compelled to journey forth, expand our horizons and see the “new and different”. Sometimes we’re dragged by our spouse or chided by our children….but mostly, there seems to be some innate, inborn compass directing us towards migration. Do we share this with the birds? Do we travel because we CAN, or because we MUST?

  4. norm says:

    When I was in 8th grade our class had to write a paper on birds. Now why the teacher, a thin, hawkish ( no pun intended) lady with a nasty temper picked this subject, was just plain weird to me. I selected the Arctic Tern. Maybe, subconsciously, I realized the teacher had a frosty demeanor ( sorry ) and I linked the bird and her together. I thought my prose was brilliant. The reason being that I had copied it, I thought rather artfully, changing a word and phrase here and there, from the encyclopedia. I received a C-. I will probably never, ever see the Arctic , or for that matter the Arctic Tern. I’ll stick to the warmer climates.