A New Birder in the Family

30 Jul

My daughter is nine years old. And, I am finding that she is looking for ways to be more independent. This is a difficult time for a parent. Of course, I want her to grow up to be a strong, capable adult but she’s still my baby. I am finding that I have to balance my need to protect her with her need to grow up. Tough times.

Last week, Ruth decided to take the dog for a walk while we were at my mother-in-law’s house. No problem. She told her dad what she was up to and off they went. But, after awhile, his Dad Radar (TM) went off and he went looking for her. He couldn’t find her for awhile but when he did, she told him that she’d decided to try to walk to her cousin’s house. It’s not hideously far away but she’s never walked there and one of the roads is extremely busy. And, we didn’t know where she was — plus, she’s nine. So, true to usual, I was the heavy. As soon as she realized that we weren’t pleased, she was crushed — she wasn’t jerking our chains or running away — she thought it was a good idea in the way that only a nine year old could think. Sigh.

Greg is very practical. He immediately went online and ordered the Family Radios that we’d been talking about for months. But, how do we implement some new freedom . . . I started small. On Sunday, I read the instruction manual for the radios and figured out how to use them. Then, I told Ruth we needed to test them. And, off she went — by herself, happy as a clam, feeling that she’s helping, and it was independence that I was comfortable in giving her.

She walked to the pond and then called me (although a running commentary had accompanied each step of the trip) very excited. “There are some unusual birds, Mom! They aren’t ducks, I think they are shorebirds!” I told her I’d come right away to see them.

Watching for birds

Intrepid Birder!

As I approached the pond, Ruthie gave me clear descriptions of the heron. From her description, it was clear that one was a Green Heron and one was a Black-crowned Night-Heron. As I got close, I saw the Night-Heron fly up into a tree at the edge of the pond. Ruthie and I walked around the pond and got as close as we could. Bingo! Got him!

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

We took a few pictures, but he wasn’t happy about us being there. We were too close. As we were backing off, we saw the Green Heron fly into another tree near the pond. Cool!

Another view

Green Heron

Ruth the bird watcher

Ruth — a skilled birder at age 9

So, how proud am I of my girl? Pretty darn proud. She is a careful observer and she remembers details. I have identified many birds from her description alone. And, the next time, she remembers what they are on her own. Will birding be her thing? I don’t know but . . . she’ll be more knowledgeable about birds than I was at her age and that’s not a bad thing! Oh, and she can take a good bird picture too!

Young Mallard Drake

Young Drake Mallard
Photo by Ruth

 There is that sappy saying about letting something go if you love it . . . you know the one.  Well, I let my daughter go a little bit today and damned if she didn’t come back to me.  I worry alot about her teenage years.  I know we’ll butt heads — we always have but I also know that she’s a good kid and she’ll come through.  She told me today that she wants to be a Nice Teenager.  She said that she thinks she’ll keep doing theater because the teenagers in theater are nice and that’s what she wants.  (Hot damn!)  I was watching the teenagers teaching swim lessons today and thinking that the swim team/lifeguard route is another one that builds nice teenagers.  She’ll have options but I’m going to keep looking for Nice Teenagers (TM) as role models for both my kids.

PS.  Happy birthday, Sis!   I love you!


13 Responses to “A New Birder in the Family”

  1. Jody 31 July, 2007 at 2:39 am #

    Awwww…thanks, sweetie!! I love you back. Also loved this blog entry. Super pics. TTYS.

  2. jayne 31 July, 2007 at 2:44 am #

    Yay!!! Go Ruth! What a sweet and observant girlie you have there. Spotting those herons all by herself. And what wonderful photos. Ya done good mom! :c)

  3. Miz S 31 July, 2007 at 2:52 am #

    Ruth is adorable.

    Has she started a life list yet?

  4. Lynne at Hasty Brook 31 July, 2007 at 5:26 am #

    Great job Ruth! You have terrific observation skills- maybe you’ll grow up to be a scientist!

    Love the shot of the black-crowned night heron. It looks like he’s giving you the evil eye!!

  5. BEG 31 July, 2007 at 8:32 am #

    What a great little story! I think Ruthie will do very well at being a Nice Teenager (heh).

    OK, question for you: I spotted a bird: mockingbird sized, charcoal body, black head (all over, like a hood), white liner around the eyes and a cinnamon colored breast. I didn’t see his wings expanded so I don’t know if any further markings there. He was on the ground busily hopping after worms. Any ideas? (Pics on flickr, tag birds). 😀

    (Yes, I’m lazy, but I did google and couldn’t find any good matches!)

  6. robin andrea 31 July, 2007 at 1:27 pm #

    Ruthie’s going to be a Nice Teenager because she already knows what that means. That’s so cool. She’s going to be a great birder too.

  7. mon@rch 31 July, 2007 at 8:09 pm #

    Hands down to being one awesome birder for sure! That Night Heron would have been alifer for me! I found 9-10 year-olds were the best age for teaching kids about birds. I think her talents will maybe leading her into a wonderful future (and become an awesome wildlife photographer)!

  8. mary 1 August, 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    I can’t tell how many times I tried to post a comment here from work today. Too many interruptions! Ruth is a lovely girl who will probably follow in her Mom’s footsteps. She learns so much from your good example.

    As far as the “letting go” thing, keep those radios on hand – soon to be cell phones :o)

  9. mary 1 August, 2007 at 4:06 pm #

    I forgot to say I’m envious of your photos. What are the chances of you joining the Flock at Cape May? I know how hard it is to get time off from teaching…

  10. Susan Gets Native 1 August, 2007 at 9:06 pm #

    Can we hear a “Whooty-whoot-whoot”?????

  11. Mike 9 August, 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    Liza Lee, you must be so proud! And it sounds like BEG further up in the comments is pulling your leg.

  12. lizalee 9 August, 2007 at 9:24 pm #

    I am proud! BEG isn’t pulling my leg . . . really! She’s not a birder. But, she’s been reading my blog and has been gaining more and more interest in birds . . . we’ll get her yet! She’s already taking pictures of them and feeding them. She’ll get to the identification and listing . . . she can’t help it!


  1. I and the Bird #55 - 7 June, 2009

    […] The Egret’s Nest: You are never too young to start birding. Nine-year-old Ruthie proves this by discovering a Green Heron and a Black-crowned Night Heron. […]

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