Peper column: Bird-watching is more than an old person's pastime – Charleston Post Courier

Scattered thunderstorms in the morning becoming more widespread in the afternoon. A few storms may be severe. High 76F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%..
Variable clouds with scattered thunderstorms. A few storms may be severe. Low 66F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Updated: April 6, 2022 @ 2:57 am
Backyard bird-watching can be a relaxing, easy way to connect with nature. All you have to do is lean back, look and listen. Dreamstime/Provided

Backyard bird-watching can be a relaxing, easy way to connect with nature. All you have to do is lean back, look and listen. Dreamstime/Provided
It’s a recent birthday that has me opining in this particular space this week. Without sounding like “that guy,” I’m not moaning about the aches and pains that a lot of us wake up with on any given morning. And I’m not interested in discussing your visits to the doctor, nor mine.
Now that I think about it, though, it was while driving for at least a mile or so recently that I noticed my blinker light was on. Hey, ease up. I could have accidentally hit it with my knee, or there’s a chance it had been blinking since I turned out of the neighborhood. I don’t remember.
In any event, I’m not here to admit to anything. I’m just sayin’, I had another birthday and it’s the number that’s hitting me harder than maybe I expected.
Let me also say right up front here, I have no intentions of confirming that number publicly, so there will be no follow-up email revelations. No matter how kindly you might try to soften me up.
It’s not that there’s an immediate feeling of ineptness or believing that my existence is irrelevant. Heck, people have probably already said that about me when I was a much younger man.
It’s really more about the actual number, I think? I don’t mind even saying I had a birthday. But when asked the inevitable follow-up question, I find myself changing subjects.
So here’s the deal. Though I remain active and feel younger than the calendar indicates, I’ve become fond of a particular pastime that probably more than qualifies me for being old. I am officially a backyard bird-watcher.
Don’t jump to conclusions. This is a bare-bones, simple approach to connecting with nature. It does not involve a bird book or binoculars. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I just enjoy sitting in my backyard in the late afternoon watching various birds visit the feeders. It is relaxing and all you have to do is just look and listen.
There’s no pretense here. I don’t profess to know the difference between an Eastern bluebird or a yellow-billed cuckoo. My job is to provide the food and to be a quiet audience of one as they arrive for supper. There are some very small winged visitors and a couple of colorful ones, too. The cardinal seems to be the most loyal frequent flyer. I recognize their chirps a yard or two away before the paired couple decides to dine. There’s also a very blue bird with a burnt-orange breast that often perches on a feeder.

For years, when it came to bird food, I favored quantity over quality. Eventually, I realized I was single-handedly supplying most of the squirrels in Charleston County with their daily sustenance.
When it’s all said and done, from my perch in the backyard, watching the birds is not a bad way to fill some time and connect with nature. I appreciate that it’s something old people do, but it feels like it’s more than that.
To me, it’s a chance to be in the moment. All you really have to do is just lean back, look and listen.
Is that a mockingbird or a whippoorwill? Just observing small visual details and behavior can stimulate the senses. It somehow feels therapeutic, even at my simple, bottom-shelf level.
I suppose these feathered creatures would find other feeders in other backyards if I stopped providing the bird buffet. But what if my yard is the only one they can count on? See what I mean? It’s easy to wax philosophical when it’s quiet and you’re alone with your thoughts, a few birds and a gentle breeze.
There’s a lot going on in our world right now. Sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish between what’s necessary and what’s just noise.
Maybe we’d all better understand if we leaned back, looked and listened.
Perhaps, then, we can all grow old together.
Reach Warren Peper at
Post and Courier
148 Williman Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Phone: 843-577-7111
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