Below is our interview with Donald Morse, AKA Donald the Birder. Donald’s been bird watching since he was 12 and has a great deal to offer the birding community.
I love interviewing birders and finding out their favorite birding moment and what it was that sparked their interest in birding. For Donald, it was the Common Nighthawk. Anyway, here’s the interview!
Hope you enjoy!
1. When did you first become interested in bird watching and what has kept you interested?
I first got into bird watching around the age of 12. It started when I used to go out with my father hunting and fishing. When the hunting and fishing was slow, I began to pay closer attention to the nature around me. I remember seeing my first wild Bald Eagle while out deer hunting with my father. That provided more of a thrill then the hunt for me.
The one bird that got me started in birding, my spark bird, is the Common Nighthawk. When I was about twelve, I remember seeing them flying high above. At the time, I did not know what they were, so I asked around. No one seemed to know what they were. My father had an old Golden Guide to Birds, but I could not find the birds in it. I set out on a mission to find the answer. My aunt took me to the Cincinnati Nature Center when I was about thirteen. I bought a field guide that I can’t remember the name of, but had photos of birds in it. I found my bird to be the Common Nighthawk. I was hooked from then on.
I would have to say that the thrill of seeing and/or learning something new every time I am out keeps me interested – one can never become an “expert”, always more to learn. Also, meeting new people out in the field. I especially enjoy showing young people the beauty of nature.
2. Where are you located and what species do you spend most of your time observing?
I live in Southwest Ohio, very near the Ohio River and about thirty miles to the east of Cincinnati, Ohio. I would have to say that most of my time is spent searching for shorebirds and ducks, or like I call them, water birds. I do search for other birds; however there isn’t much in the way of habitat for shorebirds in SW Ohio. That being said, I don’t have many opportunities to add them to my life list.
3. Are you active in a local or online birding community?
I operate my birding blog at http://donaldthebirder.blogspot.com. I also contribute to the birding blog Birding is Fun™ at http://birdingisfun.com I often participate in field trips conducted by the Cincinnati Bird Club and the Ohio Ornithological Society.
4. What is your favorite bird or your favorite birding moment? It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything rare, just something meaningful.
I would have to say my favorite birding moment was when the remnants of Hurricane Dennis came through the Ohio Valley. I eagerly watched the state listservs, noting the many storm blown birds showing up in adjacent states.
I decided to go to East Fork, a large man made reservoir near me to post guard, hoping for a storm vagrant. I got lucky, and spotted a Sooty Tern out over the lake. It stayed long enough for other birders to see it. It was a first state record for Ohio. I also saw one on the Ohio River the day before.
5. Do you have a competitive birding interest ie a year list or life list?
I keep a life list, but it needs to be updated. I am not big on listing.
6. What is your favorite place you’ve been bird watching? This includes a birding vacation or even your own backyard.
Probably East Fork State Park, near where I live. I have gotten many cool birds and life birds here.
7. What is the farthest you have traveled to see a particular bird?
Minnesota, Owl invasion. Got Boreal Owl.
And because this is AllBestBinoculars.com, we have to ask….
8. What was your first pair of binoculars?
Sears 8×40 Porro prism
9. What is the best pair of binocs you’ve ever owned?
Steiner 8×30 Military Green
10. The worst?