In the December/January issue of Birds & Blooms, we have an article on Spark Birds. So what is a spark bird? To put it simply, it’s the bird that sparked your interest in birding. It can be anything—a rare sighting, an everyday feeder bird or even a unique moment with a group of birds. We loved hearing spark stories from others, so some of our editors decided to share their spark stories with you. Take a look!
Kirsten Sweet’s (associate editor) Spark Bird Story
The first bird I was ever really in awe of was a cedar waxwing. Not only did I think it was utterly gorgeous, but it was the first bird I was really confident in identifying. After all, there’s no mistaking the bright yellow tip of its tail and black mask around the eyes. I think I’ve finally mastered the difference between a Bohemian and cedar waxwing, too.
I’ve seen tons of pictures of these beautiful birds throughout my years at Birds & Blooms, but for whatever reason, it took me a long time to see a cedar waxwing in person. I saw one just a few weeks ago. It was a juvenile and I’ll admit, it looked a little bland at first, but as soon as I saw the yellow tail, I just knew it was my spark bird. And I can’t wait to see more!
Danielle Calkins’ (associate editor) Spark Bird Story
Considering my first real attempt at birding was in Ohio at The Biggest Week in American Birding, just last year, it’s only appropriate that I discovered my spark bird during that unbelievable experience. During a bird banding demonstration, I was fortunate enough to release one of the banded birds – the gray catbird. I had seen it before and although it’s only gray in color, I loved it. Sure I obsess over birds with bright colors adorning their feathers, but something about the gray of this bird stood striking and beautiful in the surrounding trees.
And then, it was time. The bird was carefully positioned between my fingers before I let it loose. The gray catbird will forever bring cherished memories of my first birding experience, great friends and a hobby I’ll never forget.
Stacy Tornio’s (editor) Spark Bird Story
I experienced my spark bird roughly 10 years ago in northern Wisconsin. 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 Oklahoma.
“Oh yeah, that’s a loon,” they replied casually. The next day I saw it—this gorgeous bird with a jet-black head and red eye. During that whole summer, I loved watching the loon dive deep into the lake for fish, sometimes staying under the water for a minute or more at a time. Now that I have kids, I love sharing my love of loons with them as well. We like to watch it dive down and see who can find it first when it pops up.