The Evening Star

Ever been tasked with something you weren’t sure about?  Maybe you committed to an event that might be (way) outside your comfort zone to the point it starts to produce stress several months out from the designated day?  How about being cast in a situation where the audience probably knows more about the topic you are presenting than you do?  Okay, now imagine a situation where ALL those conditions come to the same confluence and you are standing in the middle wondering if the current is going to drag you under.  That is my best analogy of what Wednesday evening felt like to me.

Vesper Sparrow discovered at William Goodrich Jones State Forest in December 2016

I eluded to a commitment I had made last December but really didn’t go into it – choosing to wait and see what kind of disaster would occur.  History has taught me humbleness over embarrassment, obscurity over grandstand and work before celebration.  Those tenets have served me well.  It is also the reason for the stress over the last several months.  Last year, I had mentioned my interest in birding and wildlife to a member of my wife’s dog club (Carol).  Not sure how, but somewhere in that conversation it came up I had a blog.  Carol is also the catalyst for extracting my wildlife content into a separate site for broader consumption.  Turns out Carol is currently the president of the Peoria Audubon Society and asked if I would give a presentation on my blogging and photography.   Whoa, that’s definitely putting the big boy pants on.  At the insistence of my wife and brother, I confirmed and we eventually set the date.

Vesper Sparrow discovered at William Goodrich Jones State Forest in December 2016

Hit the jump to find out what this bird is … well, maybe ha!

I can talk (and do) talk all day about technology and architecting billion dollar systems that run all over the world –  talking about ME in public is a totally different arena (I get to hide behind obscurity on my blog ha).  So, for the next 3.5 months I fretted over my presentation on my Texas birding trip and to the benefit of my readers was busy processing all my Texas photos and as you already know, was cranking out posts like a crazed lunatic. Just about every night I was doing something related to this presentation…hoping to be able to provide value to the fine folks at the Audubon Society.

Vesper Sparrow discovered at William Goodrich Jones State Forest in December 2016

What was the result of all this focused work – well, simply put, one of the most enjoyable nights I have ever had.  The audience enjoyed the presentation, I had a chance to see some old friends again and I now have added some great friends.  There is something to be said for working hard for a goal and coming out the other side better than you were at the beginning.  My thanks to Carol, the rest of the Society attendees, outside guests, friends and especially my wife and brother who supported me (and had to push hehehe) the entire way (Ron even came down from Chicago to watch).  I got to be a star for an evening… wait a minute…

Vesper Sparrow discovered at William Goodrich Jones State Forest in December 2016

… what an excellent lead in for this cute little bird you’ve been staring at which is also called the Evening Star ( Note, this has to be the longest segue into a post I’ve ever made hehehehe).  So this little brown jobber comes to us from the William Goodrich Jones State Forest.  Yes, another bird I discovered on our Texas trip and another +1 in my birding list.  It was a late pull from the presentation as I wanted to pare the time of the presentation down a bit and wanted to focus on the more colorful birds that hang out on the Gulf Coast.  Now Sparrows are inherently difficult to identify, but this one has a tell-tale mark.  See that rusty patch on the upper shoulder – may have to scroll up and see it from different angles.  That marking gives it away as the Evening Star Sparrow or for those that know their Latin (or Roman gods) – the Vesper Sparrow.  It could also be referred to as the Jupiter Sparrow since the evening star was actually in reference to the evening appearance of that celestial body.

Vesper Sparrow discovered at William Goodrich Jones State Forest in December 2016

I apparently took too much time to recount my speaking experience and now out of pictures.  Unlike many of the species that have been featured this year, this Sparrow is much more common throughout Central and North America -just never had the opportunity to see one until we traveled to Texas.  I already mentioned the rufous spot on the wing.  Only other interesting note, is they are the sole inhabitants of their genus with their closest relative being a Lark Sparrow.

Will leave it there for this post.  Hope is all well with you and my final advice – don’t pass up an opportunity to expand your comfort zone – you just might end up chalking it up as one of your most enjoyable experiences.


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