It’s almost fall and the skies are beginning to fill with feathered vagabonds headed to their traditional southern winter habitats. I have noticed mixed flocks of songbirds foraging in my yard recently. Mr. Mom — that’s me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays — looked out the kitchen window yesterday morning (9/4) and noted a lot of activity. So I grabbed my binoculars, a few of her toys and Maddy (my soon-to-be 2-year-old) and headed out on the deck. Maddy loves to be outside, so Daddy figured he could spy on birds as Maddy played — muti-tasking in a way that would make Mom envious. It went kinda like this:

“Here, wanna ride your car, Maddy?” asked Mr. Mom

“Ride car,” replied Maddy, as she straddled the car in that, too cute, way babies move.

“Whaaasssaaat?” asked Maddy.

“A car on the highway,” Mr. Mom said.

“Motocycle?” asked Maddy.

“No a car.”

“Motocycle gitchew?”

“No, the motorcycle won’t get you,” said Mr. Mom raising his binoculars to look at some movement in a nearby tree. There, I saw a black-throated green warbler, a red-eyed vireo and maybe a Tennessee warbler. I was trying to get a better look at the suspected Tennessee.

“Whaaasssaaat?” asked Maddy pointing to my binoculars.

“Daddy’s binoculars.”

“Noculars,” she said, arms still outstretched.

“Daddy’s noculars,” Mr. Mom said. “I’ll go inside and get you some. Wait here.” I started to the kitchen door.

“Wait tuh me,” called Maddy and she galloped across the deck to me.

We went inside and I got an old, small pair of binoculars for her.


“Maddy’s noculars,” said Mr. Mom, draping the strap over her neck, while watching another flurry of activity. This time, with naked eye, I could discern a black-and-white warbler and an American redstart. But there was something else. As I raised my binoculars, I saw Maddy, out of the corner of my eye, headed for the steps of the deck.

“Where’re you going Maddy?” asked Mr. Mom.

“Pup-py,” she said.

“No, stay up here.”

“Pup-py, Gert-tie.”

So I called Gertie up on the deck to be the sacrificial lamb while I tried to get a look at the elusive warbler flitting around overhead. Ahhh! — a northern parula.

“No, Maddy, don’t pull Gertie’s tail.”

“Gert-tie tail,” Maddy said, both hands wrapped around the soft blonde appendage.

Gertie would just buck and turn and shake her head, eliciting screams of joy and guffaws from Maddy.

Mr. Mom knows when he’s whipped, so I plopped on the settee and held out my arms. Maddy waddled over and I lifted her and set her beside me.

“Look,” I said pointing to one of the feeders, “there’s a chickadee.”

“Chick–ka–dee,” Maddy said waving towards the feeder.

“Yup, chick-ka-dee, and look, a hummingbird.”

“Hummen-bird,” she said.

She must have been watching the hummer eat because she put her little fingers to her lips and said, “fuud,” so we went inside for yogurt.

We didn’t break any “Big Day” species records and we didn’t see any ivory bills or other extinct species, but all in all it was a very enjoyable morning of birding.

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