What’s Good for BirdSafe Pittsburgh Is Good for Me
Author: Carol Azar, BirdSafe Pittsburgh volunteer
I have always loved birds, so you’d think that I would have jumped at the chance to help them by walking a route for BirdSafe Pittsburgh, not exactly. I had heard that participating in BirdSafe Pittsburgh meant getting up especially early, before the sidewalk cleaners hit the pavement, to look for birds that had died hitting windows. I am, pun definitely intended, a night owl. I greet mornings with less enthusiasm than I would a Christmas fruitcake. Plus, I hate being cold. Nonetheless, last fall, I was asked to walk a route in East Liberty that is close to where I live. I committed. By chance, I avoided the cold because it was a lovely and warm fall. By design, I avoided the early morning, and I walked my route sometime between 9 am and noon.
This spring, feeling jealous of “morning people” and what they accomplish before I typically get out of bed, I decided to walk my route earlier. Since migration season started, I have been getting up when my alarm goes off. No more snooze button. I make my kids breakfast and pack their lunches. While they’re eating, I run upstairs, pull on a hoodie, my stretchy athletic bottoms, and sneakers. I grab my winter coat and an old Under Armour backpack that I pilfered from my son. The backpack is already loaded up with my BirdSafe Pittsburgh supplies: ziplock bags, brown paper bags, and a chip clip. Rather than dropping my kids off at school while I’m still in my pajamas (don’t judge me!), I head out the door fully dressed. I’m doing my best impersonation of an early bird, pun again intended, who is on her way to the gym.
I drop my kids off at school and drive to my destination. I’m lucky because although my route contains a lot of pavement, parts of it are beautifully landscaped with rain gardens and native plants. I begin walking my route, and I feel…pretty darn good! I discover that I’m not cold because I’ve bundled up appropriately and I’m walking briskly. When I’m in a pensive mood, I think, I contemplate, I ponder. If I feel more industrious, I compose emails and to-do lists in my head. When I’m in more of a zen state of mind, I just listen to the birds singing, and I marvel at them as they carve out a life for themselves in this mostly concrete environment.
I’m happy when I don’t find any birds, a bit despondent when I do. I finish my route, well aware that I have just given myself a half hour of “me time”. I look at my phone. It’s not even 8 o’clock, and my health app says that I’ve walked 3500 steps; I’m already a third of the way to my daily target of 10,000. I drive home, energized and looking forward to the rest of what used to be my least favorite part of the day.
I hope, in the long term, my efforts and those of other BirdSafe Pittsburgh volunteers will result in some positive outcomes for birds. In the short term, I know that what I do for BirdSafe Pittsburgh is definitely good for me.