Before I became one, I made fun of birders, aptly called "twitchers" in England because my grandmother and aunt were always, "Look, Elizabeth! Look! A nuthatch!" and ogling through their binoculars out the kitchen's window. They seemed ridiculous. "There should be a federal law that cats have bells," my grandmother said.
Perhaps it's that I'm nearsighted the barn owl they were pointing at looked just like a hay bale until recently. Some switch clicked.
"There's a tufted titmouse. There's a red-winged black bird," I say to my kids now, and I scramble to add my sighting to my iPhone app, where I record them like an ornithologist. "See how the swallow can bank on a dime?" I explain the history of birds, how they have hollow bones and are cousins of the dinosaurs; I go on about the feet of raptors and I lose my audience completely.
Oh how the chickens have come home to roost.