If you’ve read any of these articles over the past year, you’ve probably noticed I like birds. Well, that may be an understatement. I’m actually obsessed. I watch birds. I read about birds. My day dreams involve birds. When I imagine an ideal vacation, it usually revolves around what birds I might be able to see while on my travels.

My friends and family know me well and tease me mercilessly because of this obsession.

In fact, I seem to bring out an unusual behavior from the people in my life. They give me weird bird gifts.

Last Christmas, my niece drew my name for the family grab. She gave me a t-shirt which read, “Bird Nerd”. Everyone laughed, of course. On another occasion, colleagues at work overheard me talking about plans to go find Atlantic Puffins. They gave me a t-shirt that read, “Stud Puffin”. Last Easter my brother-in-law gave me a hat with a large wooden chickadee glued on top. I could go on. As a result, over the years I have amassed a collection of shirts, hats, mugs, etc., all given as a way of making fun of me and my bird watching ways. Each time these gifts never fail to get a good laugh from the crowd in attendance.

I don’t mind. Frankly, it could be worse. I am aware that I have the bad habit of shifting almost any conversation to the topic of birds. I know that’s obnoxious, but I just can’t help it. If my wife is around, she keeps me in check with a kick or elbow. When she’s not around, I can often see people’s eyes glaze over as I drone on about some birding tidbit. So, given how tolerant my friends and family are with my hobby, it seems the least I can do is play along with their teasing.

Truth is, although my friends think they are embarrassing me when they give me a weird t-shirt, the jokes on them. I actually like these gifts. Chances are I’m going to show up at some point wearing that Stud Puffin shirt. And if my wife’s not watching, there’s a good chance I’ll put on the Bird Nerd shirt when a dress shirt might be a more appropriate choice.

So be forewarned, if you ever think it would be funny to give your birder friend a novelty t-shirt or coffee mug with an eagle on it, just remember…For warbler weirdo’s like me, it’s just one more chance to fly our “bird nerd” flag high!

James Reddoch, of Albany Township and Boston, leads birding events for the Mahoosuc Land Trust which celebrates 30 years conserving the natural areas of the Mahoosuc Region. Visit Mahoosuc Land Trust at 162 North Road, Bethel, ME or at www.mahoosuc.org. To learn about upcoming events or to contact James, send your emails to [email protected]

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