Office Birdwatching

From time to time I enjoy reading about birders or engaging in some enjoyable birdwatching myself when it is convenient to do so.  I am no great master of the many types of tiny seedcatching birds that can be found in the Pacific Northwest or in other places even if I am at least somewhat interested in the hobby [1].  Sometimes, though, one does not need to expend a great deal of effort wading into swamps or hacking through the forests to engage in birdwatching.  Rather, sometimes the birds come to you, and you can watch them from the comfort and leisure of one’s own desk in a cube farm.  Such was the case for me today at work, and I would like to talk about it as it presents the opportunity to discuss the intersection of work life and wildlife that I find so fascinating from time to time.

As I was going about my usual typing on the computer, my eye was caught the motion of something small and flying above my head, and for quite some time afterwards, at least twenty or thirty minutes, the energy of numerous coworkers of mine was spent in trying to catch a small bird with a brown head who enjoyed hopping about on his (or her) short legs along the cubical boundaries facing the window across from my desk facing towards the east and flying quickly enough to escape anyone who tried to come after it.  The bird apparently realized rather quickly that I was no enemy of it.  I have no particular skill in catching birds myself, but I have no hostility to them and it was obvious that this little bird, whatever it was, did not have any particular mischief in mind in its activities.  The bird preferred relatively quiet places and was diligent in evading its human pursuers, but it did not have mischief in its mind and made no mess of any kind, being rather quiet for the most part.

It is admittedly a bit puzzling why a small but persistent bird would come indoors through an open break room door into an office on such a bright and sunny day as today, but my office is one that is well-suited for birdwatching.  The parking lot and grounds of my office park are well suited for bird dwellings, there is a wooded patch not far off towards the south.  There is a park nearby and quite a few clumps of trees that can be found all around, all of which make it a very convenient place for birds to dwell in relative peace and safety as it is.  And for those birds that like their food to be out in the open, there is an open place on the west side of my office building near the parking lot that was once the gathering place for a particularly melancholy variety of puffer [2] when my office made a temporary change to its anti-smoking policy and forbade the use of the usual gathering spot just outside the building where the puffers generally gathered.

Who is to say how common office birdwatching is?  I must say I do not know how many people are able to engage in that noble hobby from the confines of their cube farms.  Even in such an office where birds can be readily found, it is unclear just how many species of birds can be seen on and about the office grounds or inside one’s office.  Obviously we have seen one species of small bird, but who knows how many more are yet to be seen in the future?  There are plenty of places I have visited and lived where bird species have made themselves very obvious near me.  Whether one thinks about the noisy woodpecker drilling away on a glorious oak tree right outside one’s kitchen, or the various species of birds that haunt beaches or hotels, or the various cardinals and blue jays that enjoy backyards, or hummingbirds enjoying their feeders and so on and so forth, there are many places even in our developed world that are enjoyable for various small critters of the flying kind.

There are, of course, some serious questions about the relationship of mankind to the wider creation around us that are prompted by such encounters.  To what extent does the frequency of friendly encounters between people and wildlife suggest that quite a few species can do quite fine even in heavily developed territory?  How can such encounters be deliberately sought, or at least enjoyed when they occur?  What level of opportunism do we find among animals, and how clever are they at utilizing their surroundings in order to achieve goals of safety as well as perhaps some basic level of curiosity.  Why weren’t my coworkers more curious about the bird, what species it was, and what motivated it to enjoy our office for a while?  I find myself to be curious about such matters and quite amused to see a bird enjoying itself within our office so long as no harm is being done, but not everyone feels the same way, I suppose.

[1] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s