A Carolina Wren appeared at the feeder last winter. I heard it singing – or rather, I heard it shouting – in my Pittsburgh, PA, backyard, it’s ringing teakettle-teakettle! overpowering the mild(ly-offended) chipping of the resident House Sparrows. The wren seemed incredibly exotic compared to them, with its latte coloring (cream and cinnamon), fierce white eyebrow, and cocked tail. A bouncy-ball bird, round and excited, it frequented the feeder and brought along friends.
I’ve been keeping an eye on a bird feeder since I was a kid, but Carolina Wrens didn’t make it up north to my childhood feeders in Maine. That fact made this wren seem even more fantastic, and it reminded me that there were, in fact, interesting birds in Pittsburgh – a concept which I had neglected to consider for the majority of the time I’d lived in the city.
I went other places to bird – traveling with my Dad (Stephen Ingraham, or “the Point and Shoot Nature Photographer“) to birding festivals in Arizona, Florida, Honduras, New Mexico, Ohio, exploring proper marshes and wetlands, deserts and jungles in the morning, and working as a rep selling Zeiss binoculars and spotting scopes in the afternoons. A morning spent in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, near Titusville, FL, in January has that “a kid in a candy store” feel to it. Birds galore, every shape and size and color.
In a way though, I got just as much pleasure last winter out of watching the antics of the Carolina Wren, and when I noticed the same bird (the very same bird, perhaps?) down in the Hollow at the bottom of Frick Park, my on-again (when traveling)/off-again (when home) interest in birding finally solidified into a concentrated pursuit – one that perfectly fits in with my normal excursions and explorations around Pittsburgh.
You’ll catch me as usual investigating a flight of city steps, or poking round underneath a bridge – the only difference is I now carry a pair of “bins” with me.