2008 Update:
Q. How long have you been birding?
A.
Q. What (or perhaps who?) got you interested in birding?
Q.  What's your favorite birding spot in Oklahoma?
Introducing our January 2003
Birder of the Month:

Joe Grzybowski
Norman, Oklahoma
HOME
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?
Joe Grzybowski (the Z is silent), and I live in Norman, OK.
A.
I have been interested in birds since I was 13.
A.
My friend Carl Mrozek, and a Dr. Harold Axtell, the latter to whom we were introduced when working on our Reptile Study merit badges in Boy Scouts.  Carl was already interested in birds.  Harold was also an ornithologist and later answered questions I had over the phone.  When my family moved to a new house, I had to walk home from school for a year---it was about 3 miles.  One day in December on the way home, I spotted some Pine Grosbeaks.  I had no idea what they were but described them to Dr. Axtell.  Within about 3 months, I was keeping field notes to keep track of what I saw.
A.
Hard to say.  I stop a lot at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, perhaps out of convenience.  However, I probably like the Wichita Mountains best.  I never mind being there.  Among my favorite areas in the Wichitas are Mount Marcy and Charons Garden.  The former is closed to the public but was part of the core area for Black-capped Vireos when I started working on them, so I have had the privilege of placing my foot on many a rock on that mountain.
A.
I grew up with Peterson, but the new Sibley Guide is very good.
A.
This is a tough one.  There is an aesthetic aspect to birding, among the primary reasons I enjoy birds.  I also have a scientific interest.  Then there is the aura of the wild places in which they occur.  Among those I have seen, I would have to list Black-capped Vireo, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Savannah Sparrow, and White-rumped Sandpiper.
     I have come to know Black-capped Vireos intimately; they are attractive, and I haven't tired of them.  Black-throated Blue Warbler and Chestnut-collared Longspur because of the way they look and the places they live (lush "soft" northeastern woods, and open short-grass plains, respectively).
     Savannah Sparrow for several reasons.  For a small bird, they are versatile in their ecology and social structure, among other things.  How many sparrows have a subspecies nesting in the arctic and specializing in crabs?  This was also a bird I came to know at my bus stop when I was a boy, as one of the first sweet voices of spring.  White-rumped Sandpiper because of the places they have been---imagine their trek from the Falklands to the High Arctic.
     Now among those I haven't seen, I would have to say Snow Petrel and Ivory Gull, as much in how they look as where they live.
A.
I seldom (never) do the best/worst thing.  Things are either good or forgotten.  For shared delight, I remember the time my wife and I were backpacking and camped above tree-line in Colorado.  During breakfast, we had a family group of White-tailed Ptarmigan casually walk through our campsite.  For thrill and rarity, I remember the time I was driving I-40 through Oklahoma City, only to have a Gyrfalcon pop up ahead of me, then glide off to the side.  I also remember the looks on some faces when I told them about it; even more so when, a week later, I showed them photos John Shackford had taken.
A.
Well, no need to quit yet, so it is "where did it go?"  Later, it's "damn, it got away!"
A.
I read a lot but don't read many novels, and don't read many other books all the way through.  But now, kid books with the boys.  Last novel read was Endurance by Alfred Lansing.  Last other book (much of it) was Turtles and Tortoises by Vincenzo Ferri (my techno-detail mentality).  Last kid book (that took more than 15 minutes) was probably Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, or Ivanhoe (with one of my boys.
 
Q. Please tell us your name and where you live.
When we first invited Joe to be an OKie-Birder-of-the-Month,
he sent us this picture, saying "it's old, but typifies my nature."
We at
A Dim View are not sure exactly what that means.
Here's a guy sportin' really cool glasses and mud up to here,
holding a big turtle.  What does that say about his nature??
If you know, please clue us in!
A.
I said I forget the not-good.  If worst is for worst conditions, I remember going to the entrance of the Seaway Canals (in the Great Lakes), in this case the one that jutted about a mile out into Lake Ontario, on one February day to see a female Harlequin Duck.  It was about 10 degrees F, and there was a north wind of about 20-30 mph.  We had to go out on the end of a concrete jetty into the wind.  It was iced over from the splash, and was at a slight incline.  It took almost 5-10 minutes to edge up the 100 feet of icy incline.  It was a field trip, but only two people could go out at a time, one to hide behind an I-beam and warm up as best as one could, in between the times one got in front of the beam and edge of the jetty to see the duck.  The Harlequin was among some 15-20 ducks, mostly scoters, and would pop out of the troughs for only a few seconds at a time (out of every 30 or so).  The troughs were about 30 feet (this is an old story---probably only 10 when first told).  One also had to separate the Harlequin from the scoters, most of which were spot-faced White-wingeds.  Most of the time, when the ducks popped into view, you ended up looking at the scoters, then waited 20-30 seconds until they were visible again for a few seconds.  Every so often, the waves would splash over the jetty.  If your optics got wet, you had to wait the few seconds for the water to freeze, then crack the ice off.  I never did own good footwear so my feet were cold from the time I got out of the car.  When one had had enough, it was a quick slide to get back down the incline, except for a few crashing into other birders.  Even those who "fannied" it down had to have some help braking at the end.  It was hard to stay out there for more than 15 minutes at a time.  Now WHY, do you ask?  Don't ask if you have to.
Common Nighthawk chick,
photographed in Kerr County, TX.

(Editor's note:  Is that a face only
a mother could love, or what??)
Laysan Albatross, photographed offshore from Monterey, CA.
When Joe replied to our request for an interview, he sent along a few of his favorite bird photos.
FIELD NOTES
TULSA BIRDS
OKIE-BIRDERS
EOER
Black-capped Vireo
Patricia Velte
BackyardBirdCam.com
Still plays with turtles!!
In June 2005, Joe guided the Tulsa Audubon Society
to find
Black-capped Vireos at the Wichita Mountains in southwestern Oklahoma.  Click
on the bird to read all about our trip!
Black-throated Blue Warbler,
photographed in Cattaraugus County, NY.