Monday 19 April 2010

Mission Accomplished

Two years and four months after the start of the project I can officially and loudly exclaim in pride that the task is achieved, the mission is accomplished and my son is now officially a

Well, I had suspected it for quite a while before the last weekend, and there were hints and hopes in his behaviour - like the intent listening to a Blackbird in song or the pointing out of crows - but the last days finally yielded the definite proof after I conducted a little field experiment.

We had just started out on our usual stroller tour with the aim to squeeze at least some common migrants out of the area known as the Boredom Flats south of Leimen (possibly more my intention than my son's) and to run around as much as possible, throw as many stones in as many puddles as possible with the largest possible splash, and find the steepest slope to negotiate with a training bike - repeatedly (possibly more my son's than my ideals of a good Sunday walk) .
Anyway, whatever our respective intentions might have been, we suddenly spotted these two birds in someone's front yard, both not more than 5 metres away from us:
To the left a fine male Eurasian Blackbird (called "Amsel" = Ouzle in German), and to the right a Wood Pigeon (called Ringeltaube = Ringed Pigeon in German).

This, I decided as I immediately recognized the scientific potential of the situation, was going to be the test set-up to see if he had actually learned by heart any of the bird species's names I had told him over the last few months.

So, here is the course of the experiment:

Father: "Where is the pigeon?"
Son: [points to the right] "There!"

Father: "Where is the Blackbird?"
Son: [points to the left] "There!"

Father: "Where is the pigeon?"
Son: [points to the right] "There!"

Father: "Where is the pigeon?"
Son: [points to the right] "There!"

Father: "Where is the Blackbird?"
Son: [points to the left] "There!"


Notice my cunning approach as I didn't ask alternating but irregularly, and he still got it right each time.

Now, the pigeon is not a specific name, it denominates a whole group of birds. This is something he knew and did for a long time, e. g. duckies, birdies, chickens, etc.
But the Eurasian Blackbird is a specific name for a species and one species only. And by pointing it out correctly time and time again, he identified the bird on a species level, and I would say the first identification of a bird is what clearly marks him as a definite BIRDER.

I should not forget to note that he has been pointing out "Amseln" (Eurasian Blackbirds) for many months now but all these situations included only this one species, so it wasn't clear if he had actually understood that I meant the black hop-arounds or if he just pointed out the next best bird he saw after my asking him. This time, however, the results were clear and definitive.

Can you spell P-R-I-D-E !??

Well ... Nate, and Corey, and Laurent, and Patrick.
Let's see what you've got.

The cast in alphabetical order
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula - Amsel [Ouzle]
Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus - Ringeltaube [Ringed Dove]


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

LOL!! What a wonderful story Jochen!! It shows that he is a super intelligent young man with LOTS of potential. :) You have taught him well but .... maybe ... hmmmm ..... shouldn't he know more about girls than about birds? LOL!! Okay, okay, he IS a bit young I'll give you that. :)

You have every right to be VERY proud of him!!

Anonymous said...

Well, that's impressive and I understand your pride, but really, Jochen - when's his first blog post?


Jochen said...

@Joan: one thing doesn't exclude the other, and he actually already has a girlfriend.
Seriously, there is a young girl his age (2+ years) he really likes, and when they meet they will play together, point out exciting things to each other, share food and drink and even walk around holding hands.
The very definition of cuteness!!!!

@Wren: don't tell anybody but he's actually my ghostwriter.

corey said...

I've heard of child abuse before but condemning a child that is barely older than two years old to a lifetime of being distracted by every bit of birdsong, planning the location of things like where to go to college based on where good birds are, and just generally being obsessive about things with feathers?

Well, that is freaking awesome! I hope I can similarly brainwash my son...

Nate said...

Well done sir. Well done indeed.

I point out the ubiquitous Canada Geese to my kid when we do walks around the neighborhood, but until he starts talking I don't know if it's sinking in.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Is he a charmer like his father? It is so nice when they have a special friend. :)

Laurent said...

My son is only 10 months old, but the other day I caught him trying to locate a cardinal who was singing his butt off......Another time we spend 10 mn (an eternity for a baby) looking at a noisy family of Blue Jays......he was very excited by this!

does it make him a Birder? I don't think so. But secretly I'm hoping so. And dreaming about future trips together at Crane Creek, Pointe Pelee or Denali National Park....

John B. said...

Congratulations! Well done. Now that he has the common birds figured out, you can start him on warblers.

Larry said...

Excellent! Maybe you can start the first baby stroller birding club!

Jochen said...

@Corey: well, you will have to prepare him somehow to cope with buffalo carcasses hitting his childhood roof, so a good ol' nerdy hobby seems like a good start to his training.

@Nate: yes!! Good man!! It's the early years that form them, Nate. Go, go, go!!

@Joan: it really is very charming.

@Laurent: well, he doesn't have much choice, ey? Son of a birder couple!! I am sure he'll love it.
Even my non-birding wife enjoyed spring migration around the Great Lakes.

@John: well, I was thinking about shorebirds first, no?

@Larry: oh, that would mean very, very lonely club meetings here in Germany. however, I really wonder when Corey, Nate, Patrick and Laurent will start such a club. The club's blog would surely blast 10,000Birds from the top position!
Ah, maybe THAT's why...