Cyndie Browning
of Tulsa, OK

(co-host of
A Dim View)
Q. How long have you been birding?
Q. What got you interested in birding?
Q. What's your favorite birding spot in Oklahoma?
Q. What field guide do you prefer to use?
Q. What are your 3 favorite birds? and is/are there any particular reason(s) they're your favorites??
Q. Tell us about your BEST birding experience.... so far.
Q. What was your WORST?
Q. What are you most likely to say when a bird flies before you can ID it?
Q. What was the last book you read?
Since Mother's Day, 1997.
My friend Blaine in Minnesota invited me out for a birding hike with him on Mother's Day morning 1997 (both our mothers lived out-of-town so neither of us had any family obligations that morning).  May is when the warblers really start to hit Minnesota hard, and I was blown away by the fact that Blaine not only knew what birds he was seein' just by lookin' at 'em (and there were lots of birds that morning!!), but he also ID'ed 'em by their calls!!  The very idea of listening to a sound and recognizing which bird made it overwhelmed me.  But still, I WAS interested ....and then we chanced upon a large flock of Cedar Waxwings perched in a tree.  I was absolutely mesmerized by the sight of them.  When I was a kid, I had a book about birds and Cedar Waxwing was one of the birds in that book that I remembered most vividly.  I couldn't believe I was actually seeing these awesome birds live and in living color!!! and I've been a serious birdwatcher ever since.
Without a doubt, the Great Salt Plains in northwestern Oklahoma.  No matter how often I go there nor what time of year, I always see something that excites me about birding all over again!!
SIBLEY'S, hands-down!! but I'm also fond of the American Bird Conservancy's Field Guide to All the Birds in North America.  I like the illustrations where the birds are drawn in their natural habitats, and because of its long, narrow shape, the book fits easily in my fanny pack when I'm out in the field.
My friend Rob in Manitoba recently reminded me about my "worst day":  the day he took me east of Winnipeg a few years ago to the "Pinawa Cemetery Road" for a hike down to a lake.  The biting insects were especially aggressive and I'm terribly allergic to their bites, and by the time we hiked down to the lake and back, I was covered with welts, in itching agony, nearly in tears, and didn't care right then if I never saw another bird!!
Gosh.... there've been so many.  But one of my best experiences was the morning of my 50th birthday.  Blaine and I were camped at Falcon State Park near Zapata, TX, midway through an 8-day birdin'-our-butts-off expedition.  I awoke that morning thinking, "I'm 50, at last!! and here I am, exactly where I want to be, doin' exactly what I choose to do, and looking forward to spending another day chasin' birds with the Birdman."  It was utterly delightful to be awakened by the silly chips and twitters of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers roosting in a tree over our tents.  They became "my birthday bird," first bird-of-the-day on my birthday.  The morning was clear and cool, the air was dry, and I lounged on my bed in my tent, writing letters and postcards, luxuriating in the blissful peace and quiet.  Well, I say "quiet" but Golden-fronted WP's fussed all over the place (just like Red-bellies do), Chihuahuan Ravens and Great-tailed Grackles exchanged insults, whistling and chattering like kids at a football game.  We had Mourning, White-winged, and Inca Doves cooing all around us.  Flycatchers---Ash-throated, Brown-crested, and Couch's---chipped and called overhead.  And a Roadrunner perched on a nearby picnic table and coo-ed to his mate who sat on her nest in the tree over my tent.  A Curve-billed Thrasher sang from its perch in a dead tree high overhead, singing just for me.  THIS was my birthday, and I was in birding heaven.
"South," by Sir Ernest Shackleton, which is his memoir of the 22-month-long voyage/adventure he began in October 1914.  They set off from England to walk across the continent of Antarctica but their ship sank in the ice, and it took them until August 1916 for the last of the 28 crew members to be rescued from an island in the icy southern seas.  I love biographical adventure stories, sitting at home in my comfortable surroundings and reading hair-raising ordeals of people like Shackleton who explored Antarctica and nearly died for trying.
Green Jay, for its breathtaking colors.  I birded along the Texas coast during the week of my 50th birthday, and Blaine who went with me had promised me a Green Jay for my birthday.  On the afternoon of my birthday, we were setting up our tents at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park when a Green Jay flew into a tree in our camp.  "Hey, Boss," Blaine exclaimed," look what I brought-cha!!"
Cedar Waxwing, my "hook bird" (see "what got me interested in birding," above); they always were my favorite bird.... that is, UNTIL I saw my first Green Jay!
Barn Owl, for their beauty, and because it's one of the first birds I ever had a close encounter with.  One flew over my head one night when I lived in southern California and I "Oooooooo-ed" at it, which seemed to charm the owl because he flew in circles around me, just above my head, for about 10 minutes while we studied each other.
I always say, "the little shit!!"
Q. Who are your heroes or role models?  Whom do you admire? and if you care to comment, why are they your heroes?
Eleanor Roosevelt and Katharine Hepburn, because they were strong women who lived their adult lives the way they chose, according to their own rules, and didn't allow "what other people might think" of them to dissuade them from the way they wanted to live.  (The same could be said of Senator Hillary Clinton, and I admire her very much in her capacity as New York Senator, even tho' I know very little about her personally.)  As Eleanor Roosevelt herself wrote, "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
My other heroes are Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Abraham Lincoln, former Presidents Harry S. Truman and Jimmy Carter, Peter Ustinov, and John Wayne.  (God bless John Wayne. ~:-)
Listen to Cyndie tell
some of her bird stories:
A Bird's Eye-view of the World
Birding by Canoe
Chasin' sparruhz
Following Swallows to Water
The Bird Lady from Atlanta
on "Learning the Birds"
HPPR Radio