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Happy Dipping

Not seeing the rare bird on a field trip is called "dipping." Always remember that when you dip on the target you have still experienced other things: the thrill of the chase, other species that are interesting and beautiful in their own ways, and the joy of simply being in nature. Make sure to notice the small joys in every field trip to avoid allowing frustration to steal your motivation to continue birding.

Indigenous people have a practice of reciting the OHÉNTON KARIWATÉKWEN when they gather to make important decisions. These are "the words before all else," a litany of gratitude. They express thanks to all manner of beings, the "more-than-humans" who surround and support us. The words thanking birds are "We bring our minds together as one and give thanks for the birds, that we still hear the nice singing that they bring, especially the head of the bird family—the eagle is its name…now our minds are one." Too many non-indigenous people might hear that and immediate desire to see an eagle, completely missing the truth that there can be no head without a family. Sure, prioritizing the birds you have not seen, particularly the rare ones, over the ones you have creates a drive to keep searching. Of course it also creates need, which unmet can lead to a frustration that works against the drive to explore and learn. One way to lower the bar of expectation is to find pleasure in more than finding the target. The priority species becomes the catalyst for an adventure. If success is measured solely by reaching the goal, the joy of the journey can get lost. Every birding trip involves ticks and dips. You will tick some birds off your list and dip on others. Over time, the ticks can become mundane and like an addict chasing the next high, it is possible to succumb to frustration and pain. But if you have an attitude of gratitude, a whole world of beauty opens up before you, joy abounds, and the journey becomes the destination. Prayer: Great Spirit, teach us to be thankful before all else so that even loss reminds of us your gifts. Amen.


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