To me there is more meaning to birding when you can actually come to "know" a certain individual bird. To "know" in my own dictionary can reflect a couple of different meanings. It can mean recognizing the same bird over and over, day after day, or year after year by some kind of physical trait or habit. Or it can also mean coming to know a bird from just a short, one time chance meeting, where the circumstances were in such a way that the bird never left your mind or memory, and from time to time you think about this particular moment and bird.
One such chance meeting came to me in the spring of 1995 at Hawk Mountain Pennsylvania. Tommy and I were at the top of the North Lookout. It was early in the morning and the foggy mist still covered the stream valley below. We could hear mainly Canada geese honking below us, but we could not yet see them. As we sat there in the peaceful solitude of the morning, still having the point to ourselves, and enjoying the sounds of the geese, we suddenly realized there were other tweeps and chirps beginning to surround us. They started out softly and then got louder and louder. We then realized that it was a migrating warbler wave coming and we were right in the middle of it! Suddenly, every direction that we looked in there was a warbler! They were in the trees, on the ground, in the shrubby undergrowth and on the rocks all around us! It was apparent that this group of birds had been flying all night and was just landing to rest and feed. We did not know which direction to point our binoculars in first and many were to close to focus in on with binoculars. It was a group of mostly Tennessee warblers, American redstarts, and Black and white warblers. But one individual has been with me every since...not three feet away from me was a male Black throated green warbler standing on a rock opposite of the one I was sitting on. It was obvious that he was exhausted from his journey as we sat there and stared at each other for what seemed several minutes and I did not dare move an inch! And then as fast as that wave moved in, it moved on and and he went with them. We sat through two more warbler waves that morning. There was apparently some heavy movement the night before.
I have often thought of that one particular Black throated green warbler--I have wondered if he was able to complete his journey north and if he did was he successful at finding a mate and raising young? Perhaps his journey took him right here through our county and I would see him again...of course I would never know.
Several, several years have passed since that chance meeting and I do still think about it and his fate. I like to think that any Black throated green warbler I see now could very well be his off-spring. He is kind of a part of my "birding soul" and in ways I have traveled with him on part of his journey and no matter where he is now I continue to travel with him....
The picture here of the Black throated green warbler was taken on South Padre Island, Texas by Khanh Batran of Portland Oregon. We met and birded there together and this was "our" Black throated green warbler.
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