Midnight in Alaska, on a cruise ship on open water. I'm looking for the Northern Lights with my husband. Instead of the Aurora Borealis I saw birds. Dozens of small yellow birds, flapping like crazy, illuminated by the lights of the ship. Not bats, not moths. Tiny, bright yellow birds.
The next morning I asked the Naturalist on the ship. Dressed like a Park Ranger, I thought for sure she would have the answer. Instead she replied "I don't do birds." I needed an answer, though! Yellow birds flying at midnight over open ocean? How can you not be curious about that? So I turned to a TRUE expert. A homeschooler.
Apparently this bird behavior is not uncommon. "The birds you saw were most likely a migrating flock of Warblers looking for a place to rest. They travel at night, sometimes over the open water. They could have been either of 3 or 4 different species of Warblers."
I'm so thankful for this homeschool student! I refer to him often in my classes, when I talk about delight-directed learning. This young man studied ornithology every year of high school. His art and English was tied to his love of birds, as he wrote and illustrated for nature magazines. Now an adult in college, he is still enjoying his passion for birds. He discovered an Arctic Tern near Spokane Washington recently, and had a summer job studying Red Crossbills in Idaho.
Homeschoolers specialize in unique things. Encourage them to follow their passion. Please. So they can answer questions for the rest of us!
My birding friend recommends The Sibley Guide to Birds
, in case you are interested! You can sign up for our free monthly newsletter here.