The Secret Is Out

The secret is out. I have been seduced into becoming a member of voyeur cult. They are a curious group of people. They get up in the early morning, before most decent people are awake. They use binoculars to spy on the unsuspecting. They compare notes with their companions about who has seen what and when. They carry around code books, they discuss the physical differences between males and females, and they are fascinated by mating rituals. Yes ,I am referring to the cult of bird watching. I lay the blame of my seduction on three factors.

Social Flycatcher

First, the targets. There is an abundance of exotic birds in Santa Elena, Yucatán Mexico, who tease you half hidden in the forest, then shamelessly flash their bright colors, daring you to not admire them. Secondly, there is the proximity of fellow cult members. As the innkeeper of the Flycatcher Inn (named after a very wonderful bird, I will have you know) I chat with the guests about their activities, and quite a few of them are birders, and their enthusiasm slowly began to infect me. And finally there was the catalyst, when my daughter challenged me to a bird photography competition. After taking a few pictures of birds, it seemed only natural to want to identify them. So, I start looking up the birds in the field guides, to tell the difference between the Altamira Oriole, Icterus gularis and the Orange Oriole, Icterus auratus (Hint: check for the orange flashes on the wings.) Soon, I can’t get enough information about their habitats, their migration patterns, their daily habits, and their unique birdsongs. I too, am now up at the pre-dawn waiting to see which feathered creatures will be frolicking near the birdbath outside of my office window.

I now look for fellow members of this international obsession. They are surprisingly easy to spot. They casually place a pair of binoculars or a field guide on the breakfast table. Then all I have to do, is nonchalantly ask, “What have you seen this morning?” or “Seen anything good lately?” They will then talk about the wonders of seeing a Turquoise Crowned Motmot, or their hopes of spotting a Green Jay. We are now compadres in the same club.

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