Things that prompt people to start bird watching are always wonderful stories. When we were recently at a bird festival I met a new bird watcher. You can usually tell "newbies" by the way they stand a little back from the booth and have a puzzled look on their faces. Some don't know that there is more than one type of bird feeder, or that not all birds eat bird seed.
The lady I will remember said that she was a casual bird watcher and needed to know the difference between all of the tube feeders, why some had such big holes (whole peanut feeder), some had screens on them (thistle feeders) and some had "little cups" (the ports in a mixed seed tube seeder).
As I explained that different birds eat different things (see our feeding chart) I asked her why she had decided to start feeding birds. She replied "guilt". Now I have to admit that guilt was a new reason for feeding birds.
It seems that at a spring craft show she had purchased a decorative birdhouse to hang in a tree next to her patio. It was painted to look like a Spanish mission style house, but it didn't even have a real hole for the door, only one painted on. A bird spent days trying to figure out a way into the house. This bird stopped in quite regularly all summer to sing and then check out the house to see if there was a way in.
She said that she and her family had come to look for the bird each day. When she saw the local advertising for the birding festival she had brought the kids to enjoy the kid's activities and to learn a little more about bird watching.
She left our booth with the knowledge of having bought the right feeder and knowing where to hang the feeder to attract the most birds. Next year she is going to bring photos of her birds in for me to see.
A bird watcher is born!