I haven’t always been this way. I mean, I like birds. Who doesn’t? They are varied, sometimes freaky, always fun to watch, and their birdsong is relaxing. Still, ours was a casual relationship. My obsession didn’t start until I wrote PHANTOM PEARL.
Riki Maddox, the heroine in the story, had a thing for birdwatching. She knew her avian friends, I did not. That meant research. Not a lot, just enough to be able to write convincingly. Except I couldn’t stop. Call it an occupational hazard, because it quickly took over and I was firmly hooked. Next thing I knew, hubby got involved and started making birdhouses. He enjoys woodworking, so it was a win-win. Right?
Here’s my favorite one. It’s crafted out of 150 year old barn wood. How freaking cool is that? He’s also made houses for wrens, purple martins, and currently trying his hand at a bat house. I may, or may not, have created a monster, but it’s a consequence I’m secretly happy about. In fact, just between you and me, I’m about to suggest squirrel nesting boxes. =)
But I digress. As my obsession grew, so did my collection. I bought things. Lots of things. Let’s not go into that now. Here’s a fun fact instead. When we travel, I look up native birds and believe it or not, we actively search for them. We take pictures. And you know what? We both get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Here’s one of my favorite photos. It was taken in the good ole days, before the time of covid when we traveled freely. We went to Jamaica and stayed at an all-inclusive resort. They had resident peacocks and true confession: I became a stalker. I filled my phone with pictures. And I swear to you – they actually pose for the camera. Because look at this…
Is that not the most amazing photo ever?
But back to PHANTOM PEARL. It’s partly set in Australia and we visited while I wrote the book. You want to talk about freaky birds? Check this guy out. A cassowary. Look at those prehistoric feet. Wowza. And that’s an actual street sign near Daintree Rainforest. At first I laughed. Then I was like…OMG.
So the moral of this story is…Be careful what you research, because this obsession ain’t slowing down. Big birds, little birds, colorful, cute, wicked cool ones like birds of prey, falconry, and talking parrots. The list is endless and there’s a bird for everyone. I dare you to pick a favorite! And lastly, without a single word of warning, I’ll leave you this link so you can go check out the possibilities and start an obsession of your own. But remember – BIRD RESPONSIBLY!
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE – BIRDING FOR BEGINNERS