“Ah, just a couple of Mallards.” How many times have we said that when scanning through a group of waterfowl, looking for the rock stars: the Teals, the Hoodies, the Redheads … anything but plain vanilla Mallards. Like Black-capped Chickadees or American Robins, or even Blue Jays, it’s easy to take a “just another” attitude toward the feathered friends we see quite often.
But, there’s a lot to be said for bird watching, rather than birding from time to time: taking the time to observe, to admire, to just be present with … some call it slow birding. Here is one online description of the differences:
One person can be both a birdwatcher and a birder. Many bird lovers change their style of birding from day to day, some days more casually enjoying their familiar backyard birds, while other days focusing on chasing that new lifer or identifying a unique visitor. What both types have in common, however, is a love of birds that withstands any name rivalry.
The other day, I watched two pairs of Mallards feeding in the morning sun, oblivious to me scoping them from across the inlet. They just dabbled and preened and had a great time — it reminded me of hanging out in a great coffee shop, nibbling and sipping, just having a leisurely breakfast.
I’m usually not the most patient of birders — I have to consciously slow down and observe rather than just ticking the bird off on my iPhone and moving on. There’s a time and a place for that, but it’s also fun to make time to not only study the details of plumage but to learn more about what the birds that we see and hear are doing. It’s a work in progress for me. So Mallards, if I have maligned you in the past, remember deep down I think you’re cool-looking and acting ducks. Dabble on!