[Tweeters] life richer or poorer?

Dennis Paulson dennispaulson at comcast.net
Sat Nov 27 13:27:20 PST 2010

Hello, tweets.

I usually stay out of controversial exchanges on tweeters, but I had to respond to this one. I should add that I only see the digest once/day, so I never know how much else has been written. Joe Meche asked if one's life would be richer or poorer if they had never seen a Sora.

I would say my life is immeasurably richer every time I see a bird that I hadn't seen before. This is a special richness, over and above the enjoyment of seeing all the aspects of nature that I love on a daily basis. You can look at all the paintings and photos in books for years, and they don't compare with actually seeing the bird (or any other animal or plant) in the flesh.

There is certainly emotion in this, just as you can get out of any new experience, but there is also my particular left-brain pleasure as a naturalist and biologist from seeing something I had not seen before and learning just a little bit about it. That species now has a better fit in my mental construct of our natural world, even with this single observation. I can teach about that bird better than I could the day before. I can distinguish it in the field from related species better than I could the day before. I have a better knowledge of how it walks or hops or flies or climbs, how it interacts with the vegetation, what exact habitat it inhabits.

Yes, I can learn much more about the species if I see it repeatedly, but that first encounter is a very special one and unquestionably enriches my life.

Note I'm not getting into the controversy about whether using an iPod to attract a bird is acceptable, but I would say that to me, that is a personal decision, not one mandated by society. I see it as comparable to the personal decision of whether to eat a turkey on Thanksgiving or not!

Dennis Paulson
1724 NE 98 St.
Seattle, WA 98115
dennispaulson at comcast.net

More information about the Tweeters mailing list