Spotted Sandpiper

“I came late to the love of birds. For years I saw them only as a tremor at the edge of vision. They know suffering and joy in simple states not possible for us. Their lives quicken and warm to a pulse our hearts can never reach. They race to oblivion. They are old before we have finished growing.” — J.A. Baker, The Peregrine

Footprints

River otter footprints

“As a human being, one has been endowed with just enough intelligence to be able to see clearly how utterly inadequate that intelligence is when confronted by what exists.” — Albert Einstein

Certainty

Iona / North Arm

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” — Voltaire

Birding teaches you quickly that your perception and judgement are unstable and easily fooled. A talented birder has remarkable ability to see only what they see and hear only what they hear. Dropping our mental chatter and expectations when looking at birds (or butterflies, mushrooms, snakes, or anything at all) brings us outside ourselves.

Beware of birders or anyone else who claim certainty. In both the world of nature and knowledge we must tread lightly. We must be honest with others, and especially ourselves, that there is always some mystery.