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A “spark bird” is the bird that helped spark a person's interest in birding. Do you have a story? Read how a particular bird or bird watching experience turned others on to birding.

Spark Bird Stories
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American Robin
A Robin in our house

Ellen Emerson

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The bird was a robin in Concord, seen through the eyes of my poet brother, Alec. His words brought the robin to our house one night in the fifties, and I've loved robins ever since.

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Bufflehead
I still can't see a bufflehead without thinking, "Hey, there's a bubblehead" and remembering time with my father.

David Gregg

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The first bird I remember being able to reliably identify (besides feeder birds) was the bufflehead. My brothers and I called them "bubbleheads" which seemed to make sense to us because the male's head looks like it has a white bubble on top.

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Snowy Owl
A flash of movement caught my eye and I looked up to see a large white bird swooping to a landing.

Bill Thompson III

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I was out in the front yard of my family's home on Monroe Street on the edge of town. It was Thanksgiving break from school and we were raking leaves in the front yard, under the giant oak trees. I seem to remember a slight dusting of snow on the ground. A flash of movement caught my eye and I looked up into the heavy, spreading branches of one of the old oaks to see a large white bird swooping to a landing.

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Snow Bunting
They were almost all white, delicate little things, unlike any I'd ever seen. They seemed unreal.

Sharon Sorenson

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As a kid, I watched birds out the kitchen window at our little wooden feeder. Since we didn't have a "bird book" and knew almost nothing about birds, we made up our own names: wild canaries, red birds, rain crows, striped-headed spatzies, and that mysterious leaky-faucet bird. Gradually, after Mom bought a Golden guide, we put accurate names to birds, but we still knew nothing of phenomena like migration.

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Common Loon
I heard an eerie wail, echoing across the water. “What is that!?”

Sally Sunderland

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I experienced my spark bird roughly 10 years ago in northern New Hampshire. We were at my in-laws’ cottage on a little lake for a summer visit, and I heard an eerie wail, echoing across the water. “What is that!?” I asked. I’d never heard such a thing, growing up in Ohio.

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Wood Thrush
We were in a Concord woodlot when we saw and heard a bird I had not seen before

Peter Alden

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My first bird book was the little Golden Guide to Birds by Herbert Zim. I was helping my younger brother David with a 5th grade teacher who asked every kid to go out and find 30 birds in town (which every student should do). We were in a Concord woodlot when we saw and heard a bird I had not seen before. Flipping through my Zim there it was in full color, a thrush with a reddish crown and bold black spots on a snow white breast.

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Red-tailed Hawk
I looked out my window and saw a gigantic bird on the fence

Karen Hansen

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In the early 2000s I lived in Watertown, MA. The house behind me had a split-rail fence and a massive oak tree, and the owners would be out feeding birds every day. To be honest, the rest of us were not thrilled with this…. The seed attracted critters and tons of pigeons, who left droppings everywhere. They roosted in the oak tree, which was menacing enough since it had pulled apart at its fork, after crashing some heavy branches on a neighboring roof.

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Chestnut-crowned Antpitta
That moment opened my eyes to the peculiarities of birds

Chris Bensley

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I was in Rio Blanco Natural Reserve in Colombia, part of a birding to preview birding locations in the Central Andres. My companions were two experienced birders, Nate Swick and Dorian Anderson, and they were excited to have the chance to see the endemic species. The local guide took us to a feeding area in the dense forest. We waiting patiently for what seemed like an eon.