Habitat and Refuge: Photographs of North American Birds and Landscapes
“Birds are real. If I had to justify… birding, that would be my first defense… we’re keenly attunded to reality – not just the birds but also geography, weather patterns, forest types, tide schedules, and myriad other factors, because everything in nature is connected. Other people may take up hobbies to escape reality, but birding has the opposite draw. It’s a deep dive into the real world.”
I am an unapologetic bird watcher. I identify as a birder, a bird nerd, a bird photographer, an amateur ornithologist, a twitcher, a lister, a bird chaser, or any one of several other often disparaging and embarrassing titles that describe somebody who is obsessed with birds. Watching birds brings me a great deal of enjoyment, it provides refuge from the stresses of daily responsibilities, and helps me connect more fully with my surroundings. It heightens my senses and makes me a more careful observer. I believe that we experience our surroundings filtered through our encounters and interests. I think about and see the world in terms of habitat usage, migration, vagrancy, bird distribution, foraging strategies, etc.
While I still obsess over finding and documenting new birds for various yard, county, state, and national lists. I have come to the realization that the birds aren’t the only things worth experiencing while birding. Through birding I have made great friends, I have seen incredible wildlife (including, but not limited to, birds), I have seen amazing, ordinary, disgusting (sewage treatment plants and garbage dumps are surprisingly productive birding spots), and seldom-visited places. I have made connections to the natural world that I don’t think would be possible for me without bird-watching.
This seemingly random sampling of North American landscape photographs, depicts important birding sites in the United States. Some of these places are well known destinations for birders, some may hold high concentrations of birds, others may attract interesting birds, or they may provide unique habitat for specialized birds. These are remarkable places, ordinary places, and/or forgotten places. However, all of these spaces provide habitat and refuge for birds and for their observers.
-Darren Clark 2019