I am participating in a 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge. This week’s prompt is: START. I wrote this week about something that started earlier in my family than I originally thought.
I am a birdwatcher. I don’t belong to a club or compete in competitions, but I do enjoy watching and identifying the birds at my feeders. I bird watch when traveling and vacationing, and I even have a Pinterest page about the critters I see in my yard. Birds fascinate me and always have.
Birds from a young age
When I was very young we had a green parakeet named Chipper. He was actually Chipper the 2nd. Chipper the 1st died before I was born. (He was quite the bird from what I’ve been told.) My mother’s sister, Millie, and her family had a parakeet or two, also.
We fed the birds when I was growing up, too. We had a large dining room window that slid horizontally to open. My dad mounted a birdfeeder on the outside of that sliding window. It made filling the feeder easy, and we could sit in the dining room and watch the birds at the feeder.
I don’t remember not knowing blue jays, robins, cardinals, and mockingbirds.
Bird watching beyond my family
I had a Girl Scout advisor who was a birdwatcher. I sat with her a few times at Chincoteague Island watching water birds flying about in the early morning hours.
My interest grew from there. I fed the birds at places I lived, when able. Husband and kids came along, and I continued feeding the birds. We moved to a wooded community in another state. There were new birds I didn’t know, but I learned their names and what they looked like and I taught my girls, too. I’ve even taught friends and their kids about our local birds.
The origins of my bird fascination
I always thought my fascination with birds came from my mom until a family member, Agnes, told me a little story. Agnes’ mother, Aggie THOMAS JEFFORDS (1897-1966), and my maternal grandmother, Florrie THOMAS MARTIN (1894-1979) were sisters. My maternal grandparents, Florrie and J. Daniel MARTIN (1886-1955), would go to South Carolina every summer to visit family. They always stayed with Agnes.
Agnes reminisced about the last time they visited before Daniel died. Agnes said one morning she “went out on the porch to find Uncle Dan’l out there watching the birds. He had put food out for them, and he was thrilled to see six pairs of redbirds [cardinals] all at one time.”
No, not from my mom
Our family’s bird fascination started with my Grandpop, J. Daniel MARTIN, which actually makes sense. Grandpop was a farmer so he would have been up and out early. Grandpop likely experienced the dawn chorus about every morning. There were no portable radios or mp3 players. The birds were his music and his companions out in the fields, pastures, and orchards. Daniel was a musician, too. He probably found their songs delightful. I know I do.
One of my cousins fondly remembers walking in the wood with Grandpop. He would sing to the birds and they would answer. It fascinated her that he could do that.
How about you and your family? Is there a skill or interest that has passed from generation to generation? Please comment below.
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