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July 24, 2012

We ardent birders share not only a skill and craft but also a state of mind — more, a state of heart, one akin to love. All the usual explanations of why such an improbably pastime as birdwatching should be so profoundly rewarding — the thrill of the chase, days of companionship outdoors, enigmatic identifications solved, competition and even scorekeeping, witnessing nature in action, times and places of great beauty — all these sorts of reasons fall short unless they acknowledge those extraordinary moments when, as Charles Hartshorne once put it, “life touches life.” Honoring these moments, I think, is the largely unspoken bond among ardent birders. When we do talk about why we go birding, time and again these private experiences are what we birders recall as “when lightning struck.”

The Ardent Birder, by Todd Newberry & Gene Holtan

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