The disclaimer as I start this blog post is that this might not be the article that you would expect to read on a birding website. This might also not be the kind of article that gets lots of applause and shares... But nevertheless, I do believe that it is important. Three people that I have had the privilege to interview on my podcast over the last year that have had a tremendous impact on my own life have been Faansie Peacock, Mike Buckham, and recently Richard Flack. What has impacted me wasn't Faansie and Mike's impressive bird lists or knowledge of ornithology...
It wasn’t Richard’s impressive photography...
Rather what impressed me was the balance that they have managed to make a part of their lives. You see the thing is in the long run it is of no value to have a long and impressive life list, while your family is falling apart and the things that truly matter have lost the place of importance in your life. What each of these guests have shown me is that if family is important in your life, you will make it a priority. The sad thing that I have encountered over the years that I have birded is how some married people almost live as single birders. They have families that stay back home, while they traverse the country and globe in search of that next lifer. I do however want to comment that this is not true of all birders – I have met many incredible couples and families that have amazing birding adventures together. I feel that there are three things that all birders with families should be doing:
Look for ways to include the family – This doesn’t mean that they have to bird with you, but this means that you will as often as possibly look for venues and facilities that allow them to come along while you bird. This could mean places with kids play areas or a pool – while you bird, they can enjoy the facilities and your can join them afterwards. Faansie Peacock’s kids bird book came about out in part due to him looking for ways to make birding accessible to his children. He also started looking for dragonflies while out that his kids could have an activity that they could do together.
Be fully present – When you come back from a day’s birding the problem that some people have is that they get home physically, but emotionally the remain on the field birding. It’s important to get home and disengage from birding social media groups. Sit with your family and be fully present with them. Don’t look to revolve every conversation around birds, learn to find out what they are interested in and speak about that.
Make family a higher priority that birds – I learnt this from Richard Flack who spend quality time with his family. Yes, he spends lots of good time in the field capturing those spectacular bird images, but he also spends lots of quality time with his son and wife. Sometimes plan activities on a weekend that don’t involve any birding, but simply allows you to spend good time with your family.
Let’s enjoy this amazing hobby we have without allowing it to destroy what is of greater importance in our lives. Love birds, but learn to love family a lot more!
Let me know your thoughts on the article and any ideas that you might have for birders with families.
Suggested resources for birders with children:
- Faansie's Bird Book - https://www.thebirdinglife.com/post/faansie-s-bird-book-review
- Sophia's Safari: The African Alphabet Series https://www.thebirdinglife.com/post/sophia-s-safari-the-african-animal-alphabet-series
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