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Hobbies To Consider For The New Year: Dan Lory Shares His Passion For Birding


The new year is right around the corner. And if you don't have a resolution yet, our listeners have a few ideas for you. We will be hearing from them throughout the week. You will not hear any pleas for less - no cutting sugar, no curbing your TV habit. Instead, consider adding something to your life - a new hobby. Today, the case for birding.

DAN LORY: My name is Dan Lory, and I live in Chicago, Ill. My hobby is birding. And I got started five or six years ago at a time when I was in a bit of a stressful period in work and I was looking for something to get me out of the routine and get out and enjoy nature and learn something at the same time.


LORY: The first bird I ever saw after I started birding actually was on New Year's Day, and I saw an American Kestrel, which is a pretty cool bird as a first bird. It's about the size of a robin. It's not a big bird, but it's a bird of prey. It's a raptor. So it looks kind of like a jet fighter in flight.

It's easier to start birding than you might think. You don't need a whole bunch of equipment. You don't need 10 field guides. You don't need to be an expert in birds. You just need to start paying attention to things that maybe you just took for granted before. You step out the back door, and you hear some birds and you don't even pay attention to what ones they are. But when you do start paying attention, you realize, oh, my gosh, there are four different types of birds out there.


LORY: Birds are just beautiful creatures. They're fun to look at. They do some weird things sometimes, some very beautiful things, some ferocious things - some of the raptors, especially.

When I take a walk looking for birds, it's no longer just a stroll. It's walking and discovering something as I go. What might be in that tree up there? And why is that type of bird there? Every walk is more of an adventure.

Thanks to having birded now for a good four or five years, I not only listen better when I'm out in the field, but I think I listen and pay attention to things better in general, even relationships and how I see myself in relation to others. There's a thin line between a hobby and a mania, I think, sometimes, but birding has opened my eyes and my ears to a different way of seeing the world. And the world, of course, is more than just birds. It's everything around me.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEATLES SONG, "FLYING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.