By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
Having introduced you readers in my last column to the mechanics of bird-watching, or rather bird thinking, it seems like a good time to relate these categories to some practical applications.
One of the delusions of birders is the burning desire to have a list of all the birds one has identified in one’s life or in one particular state or county or even in one’s own yard.
This delusion has led to the “rare bird alert”! If someone sees or hears an unusual bird for a certain place, then it is customary to share the location and other particulars with others interested in birds.
If one has a gap in his or her life list, then the desire to fill that blank space will drive someone to drive many miles and face many obstacles to get that bird “id'” and penned down as a “lifer”.
An example of this would be the snowy owl. This bird likes to hang out in the Arctic tundra, but every now and then it seems that one will wander South after new excitement and adventures.
One came Dallas way several years ago. Many bird listers hastened out to see it. The bird was very cooperative and posed for pictures for several weeks. It was because that owl has adapted to the 24 hours of daytime light in the Arctic.Parent Owls can hunt all day long and need good eyesight for that task,rather than good ears
Finally I could not stand the desire to go and get it on my list.
I went to Lake Ray Hubbard with Fr. Fred, not to fish, but to get that bird. We got bad advice as to where it was, and all we saw was a white spot on a distant tree which turned out to be a rotten branch. Later an scientific bird identifier came to town from Austin to look for the owl, but by then that bird had “flown the coop”.
The closest thing that I have now relating to the snowy owl is a painting of one by my good friend Jan Collmer. He has gone on to his reward in Heaven, but his bird portrait keeps his memory alive, However my life bird list still has a blank space!
Father Timothy Gollob is a retired priest of the Diocese of Dallas who served for more than 50 years as the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.