Most, if not all, outdoorsmen love nature and like to see wild creatures at their daily business. Which is why many a time I've bagged my requisite two squirrels for dinner, then lingered to watch others frisk among the leaves.
Or sat quietly while a small herd of deer foraged for acorns. I like to see a flock of mallards flare, then set their wings and drop into the decoys, and also like to see perky little chickadees in my bird feeder. Or a raucous bluejay dominate smaller birds for possession of sunflower seeds.
The time is coming when winter storms and bitter days will end most hunting and fishing, and when those months arrive, a bird feeder and the bits of brightly colored, feathered life around it will brighten your house-bound hours. Actually, feeding and watching birds is becoming a major national sport, and Americans spend more on bird seed each year than the gross national product of some developing countries. More and more people feed them year around, too, and most of us can easily recognize common types like robins, cardinals, bluejays, and English sparrows. But there's a trend now to take the sport much more seriously, and some even make special trips to watch hawks migrate through West Virginia hills or see shore birds at Point Pelee on the Canadian side of Lake Erie.
Many these days maintain a check lists and faithfully record every new bird they see. For some, that check list has grown to more than 100 birds. And finding new ones can be a major thrill for the serious. Like an extremely rare painted bunting seen last year at Magee Marsh, or a burrowing owl or brown pelican, unusual visitors to Ohio that do turn up occasionally.