There is a game birders play on New Year’s Day called “Bird of the Year.” The very first bird you see on the first day of the new year is your theme bird for the next 365 days. It might seem a curious custom, but people who watch birds regularly are always contriving ways to keep themselves interested. This is one of those ways. You are given the possibility of creating something extraordinary — a Year of the Osprey, Year of the Pileated Woodpecker, Year of the Trumpeter Swan. This game is an inspiration to place yourself in natural circumstances that will yield a heavenly bird, blessing your year, your perspective, your imagination, your spirit. New year, new bird.
After her breathless anticipation, Haupt is confronted with… an Eastern Starling, or “sky-rat.”
Year of the Eastern Starling. Inauspicious, yes, but not without its charms, according to Haupt.
When I first read about Haupt’s charming birding game, what, seven? nine? years ago, I resolved to play on every January 1 remaining to me. My delight at espying a dozen of our dark-eyed junco friends beneath the feeders yesterday morning will come as no surprise to regular M-mv readers.
Imagine: Year of the Dark-Eyed Junco. What will it bring?