Bonus Birding

Most of us, when we stop to think about it, have encountered things while birding that we likely would not have seen otherwise.  Birders on the VTBird listserve recently had a short exchange on this subject which was very interesting.  Roy Pilcher started it (I believe) by writing:

Most of us who spend  a reasonable amount of time birding have from time to time welcomed a non-birding experience.  Today was such a day!

In a field a doe.

Not any doe but a doe with a fawn.

Not any doe with a fawn but a doe with a suckling fawn!

Very nice!

Later, Alison Wagner, another outstanding birder, wrote:

When kids ask me, “Why do you like birds so much?”  I usually respond, “because they are easy to see.  If I go birding, I’ll be sure to see a bird. If I go bobcatting, chances are I won’t see one.  IF I go birding and SEE a bobcat, that’s a bonus! ”

Kids do this all the time, starting out on a bird walk and seeing so many other forms of nature.  Yesterday, with The Hinesburders, we found a muskrat.

It got me thinking about what non-birding things I have seen and I sort of was drawing a blank — until yesterday.  Penny, our Vizsla, and I were out in our woods walking quietly, listening to bird songs, when I noticed some movement up ahead and saw a Coyote, or CoyDog, quietly moving through the ferns and underbrush, nose to the ground.  It was close and I got my camera on it but the trees and ferns kept blocking it.  It never saw or smelled us but it was moving closer, and Penny was behind me and doing her own thing.  So I yelled, and it wheeled and ran with my red dog chasing right behind it.  I yelled and yelled at the dog and fortunately, she gave up after just a few hundred yards and came running back, all cranked up and ready to rumble.  We retreated back toward the house and all is well.  It was probably the kind of bonus that I don’t need with a dog along, but even then, a thrill.

You'll have to take my word that this is a wild coyote or coy dog - it was hard to tell.  I was surprised that it got so close to us before I spooked it intentionally.

You’ll have to take my word that this is a wild coyote or coy dog – it was hard to tell. I was surprised that it got so close to us before I spooked it intentionally.

On a less exciting vein, I thought about some birding walks we took at Ricker Pond State Park earlier this week and thought of the Pink Lady’s Slipper that I found along a trail.  It was definitely a birding bonus.


What are your bonus birding stories?  Send me a few paragraphs at vtbirder at  I’d love to publish a few collections of experiences that others have had.  What is the most interesting thing you have seen while birding that you likely would not have seen otherwise?

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment and subscribing by RSS feed or via email to have future articles delivered to you.

This entry was posted in Vermont Birding. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Bonus Birding

  1. Dana Basiliere says:

    This morning my wife was looking out at the yard/gardens and there were two rabbits (this is a year of high rabbit population) eating grass near the gardens edge and a mourning dove dive bombed one whacking him on the head right between the ears and landed to stare him down until he left the dove’s “turf”. That’s a new one for us.

  2. Dick Mansfield says:

    Wow — usually Mourning Doves are so passive — three of them are sitting in our old apple tree as I write. Maybe they’ve seen too many Sharp-shinned Hawks in their time. Thanks for the comment

  3. Pingback: Bobolinks and Snipes

Comments are closed.