Guest column, by Marlene Koslowsky
(Marlene is a Georgia Audubon member, birder, and amateur photographer who lives in Fayette County)
Today is the day after the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) for 2023. It’s my 11th time participating, my first was in 2013. Way back then, when I saw something somewhere about the GBBC, I said, "Hmm. I could do that." I’d never used eBird before. Ha! I’d never seriously looked at the birds in my own backyard before. But I had the time, and thought, "What do I have to lose? Maybe I’ll learn something."
Eleven years later, bird by bird, I’ve grown to totally love something so simple as watching birds, and all they are, and all they do. I am an amateur photographer and have honed those skills with birds in mind, enough that I’ve had a few photos published. I am quite proud of that.
But more than that, I now have a relationship with nature I never had before. It’s like my eyes are suddenly open. It’s not that I never noticed, but I totally took my natural surroundings for granted.
Each birding experience is a treasure. Because of my photos, I have a souvenir – several – from each outing. Better still, I have personal experiences with each bird I see. I don’t remember every encounter, but I do remember a lot of them. These are buried inside my head and heart and have touched my soul in a way never expected.
The GBBC may not offer prestige or fame. But it may open a door, a door a person may not know was never closed in the first place.
I hope to be around for a few more of these. I am grateful. Thank you, Cornell Labs, who came up with this fabulous event for every single one of us.
Georgia Audubon is building places where birds and people thrive.