I’m not a birder, at least not in a serious hobbyist sense. I’ll never keep a list of all the species I’ve spotted. And you probably won’t find me in a field with binoculars or scopes or any of the necessary gadgets on my own accord.
My mother was eccentric in many ways, and instilled in me an irrational fear of owls. Where others saw wisdom in the birds, she saw sorcery and tidings of death. The Aztec god of death, Mictlantecutli, often was depicted surrounded by owls, she liked to point out. But she wasn’t of Aztec descent, we pointed out. Such was my early introduction to birds.
Although I’m not a serious birder, I’m enamored of coastal birds and became more so a few years ago when I moved to Galveston’s West End, where graceful egrets and other waders and flitting songbirds are part of the everyday scenery. Lately, in the mornings, I find myself waiting for the soft, almost purring sounds of sandhill cranes as they gather on a lot across from my house. I revel in the sighting of a roseate spoonbill, its beautiful, bright pink plumage so foreign to someone like myself who grew up in landlocked suburbia.
Locals might take these feathered treasures for granted, but birding is the reason thousands of people travel here — to enjoy what I can see from my porch each morning.
I might not know the scientific or even common names of many coastal birds. As with any romance, mystery is part of the attraction. Too much knowledge about mating and eating habits and the poetry flies out the window.
Still, I admire serious birders, particularly the ones you’ll meet in these pages. They know and understand birds and that helps us all better protect and honor them.
In that spirit and in this issue, you’ll find two new monthly features — Through the Lens by island artist Joey Quiroga and Bird’s Eye View, by illustrator Christina Mattison Ebert.
Through the Lens will explore the beauty of the upper Texas coast in photography that includes people, places and things. Bird’s Eye View will offer depictions and information on coastal birds for those many thousands of people who do want to know more about avian species.
Whether you’re a serious or casual observer of coastal birds, we think you’ll enjoy this issue and the stunning photography.