I’m a life-long bird watcher I often tell people. And I am, life-long being as long as I can remember. My parents weren’t, nor did I have any friends who were interested in birds. My parents knew and told me the names of the common birds, common around where we lived. When I saw a bird Mother and Dad didn’t know, at the feeder or elsewhere, I’d tell Mother and she’d look at pictures with me until we found a picture and the name of the bird that was new to us.

Dad helped me build a bird house and put it in a tree in our yard. Birds nested in our bird house. Appropriately our bird house was a wren house and the birds that nested in our bird house were house wrens. Dad also helped me build a bird feeder, string a wire from the house to a tree in our yard and hang the feeder on that wire.

I liked seeing other animals too, not jus birds, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, deer, foxes, skunks. I learned, when I was quite young, that though I liked to see a skunk, I didn’t want to get close to one. My dog and I learned that lesson together.

Birds, mammals, wild flowers, trees and shrubs, bird nests, animal tracks, rocks and minerals, amphibians and reptiles, my interest in things outdoors has grown and for each of the subjects I just named I have a book called a field guide. I have a book named “A Field Guide To The Birds Of Alaska,” another book named “A Field Guide To The Birds Of Mexico.” I have more books for the identification of things outdoors than the local library.

Now I have become interested in what has been happening to and is happening to things outdoors. Birds, to begin with the subject I began this article, specifically species of birds of North America, have declined in number by approximately one third, according to estimates and actual counts.

I can see the decline in many species of bird. Chimney swifts were one of the most common summer birds. I saw two chimney swifts all last summer. Meadowlarks were one of the most common birds of country fields in summer. I saw just two meadowlarks last summer.

Nighthawks, Baltimore orioles, belted kingfishers, song and field sparrow, kestrels, red-tailed hawks, marsh hawks, flickers, phoebes, bluebird, indigo buntings and both yellow and black billed cuckoos, brown thrashers and catbirds, have all declined. Red-headed woodpeckers have disappeared.

Not all birds have declined. Most waterfowl have but Canada geese have increased. Sandhill cranes have increased. A pair of sandhills nested in our pasture last summer and raised two little ones. Cardinals and turkey vultures have increased and expanded their range north. There were no turkey vultures in northern Indiana when I moved to here 30 years ago. Now they’re common, summer and winter except after a severe winter storm.

The climate is changing and as the climate changes all life changes. I think of when I was a boy. How different the weather was then, particularly the winter. Strangely winter was colder and there was much more snow in winter when I was a boy. Yet now we are experiencing global warming. Strange as it seems, the winter was much more severe when I was a boy. Last winter we had the driveway plowed twice. When I was young, when my brother and I were old enough to be able, we cleared the snow off the driveway and sidewalk in the winter with shovels and we had to do it many time. We cleared the neighbor’s sidewalk too. And we got paid for it, thirty-five cents per sidewalk each time we cleared a sidewalk.

I’m a life-long bird watcher and observer of nature and the outdoors. Change is something I am seeing constantly.