I married a birder and figured it was just one of the many advantages of marriage. Should I ever need to know how to identify a bird: Bingo! Instant answer. The other advantage is that I have learned a thing or two about birds – I’m no expert, mind you – but now instead of being oblivious, I find I like looking at birds. I even get a little excited when I see a species for the first time. Now, I tend to notice when the seasonal migrating birds begin to pass through the forested urban refuge that is our backyard.
You can imagine how mortified I was when one of OFRI’s educational TV ads – for which I am responsible – went on the air last fall with a non-native bird shown in one exceedingly brief scene. Maybe a second and a half. Come to find out it wasn’t even a North American species.
Meanwhile, down at the office the phone calls and emails began to roll in with regularity. As is the case with birders in general, all these people were reliably kind about my error, but they were firm that I needed to fix it.
And fix it we did. We replaced the offending woodpecker with a scrappy little native hummingbird.
That’s why I’m writing this column. Last weekend as I read the newspaper, my wife pointed out back and said, “Oh, look, it’s the rufous hummingbird!”
Sure enough, there he was – mostly rusty red with a little green patch on his forehead and the iridescent red-gold throat patch, flying stationary at our hummingbird feeder.
The rufous, she explained, migrates away in the fall and comes back in the spring, whereas the Anna’s hummingbird hangs out in western Oregon all winter.
“That’s interesting,” I said, not letting on about my slip-up with the ad. “We’re featuring a rufous in OFRI’s new educational advertising.”
To which my birder wife replied, “Oh, that’s nice.”
The next time we decide to use a bird in one of our television ads, I’ll check with her first.
Director of Communications