A curious Virginia Rail risking it all to have a look at the group of friends observing it.


As our lives collectively get busier and busier, in world full of white noise and distraction, forethought on a large scale seems almost impossible for many people. With everything that requires our attention on a daily basis, where do we find time to consider the “big picture”? This is a question that I wrestle with more often than I would like, and it’s a BIG question for many folks. Today I am going to tell you a short story, and finish with a few thoughts.

Just over two years ago, I was attending my third Biggest Week in American Birding festival. I was becoming an established photographer, but lacked purpose in many senses. I knew that I loved birds and wildlife in general, but had no sense of direction. That changed for me in the biggest of ways (see what I did there!) during that Biggest Week festival.


This Virginia Rail peeks over it’s shoulder for one last glimpse of us before disappearing back into it’s marshy home.


I had no expectations going into that trip, other than to enjoy the time with my Dad. Since I knew that would happen I was fine with whatever the week decided to throw at me. Dad and I ended up picking up a friend at the airport late one evening, and the next few days would forever change both my life and how I viewed my interactions with others.

J. Drew Lanham is a man of many hats. An ecologist, ornithologist, and “dot connector” extraordinaire. An incredibly soulful human being with an affinity for bringing people together through birds and words. My Dad and I had the great fortune to spend a few days with Drew that week. On one of those days, while wandering Maumee Bay State Park, we heard a recognizable call coming from the reeds. The conversation froze, and the Virginia Rail you see now in these photographs charged out of the reeds to see why these three humans had traipsed into it’s territory. We all sat in wonder for a moment, made a few photographs, and moved on to let the little bird relax back into daily habits.


The Virginia Rail gave me the perfect pose. To this day, it remains one of the most powerful wildlife photographs (to me) that I’ve ever made.


I often think back to those few days and the changes that I underwent as a result, and wanted to bring this thought to you today. Life does not require more of us than we are willing to give, but giving that extra can be the difference between a good life, and an extraordinary one. Drew could have easily been too busy to spend time with a relative “rookie” birder and an old man (LOVE YOU DAD!). Instead, he extended me his time, and in that short time I changed from a directionless birder/photographer to a passionate conservationist, photographer, birder, writer…the list goes on!

The point is folks, think about the time you spend with others in regards to your passions. Have no reservations nor expectations. Spending even five minutes with someone today could affect him or her for the rest of their lives. Every minute matters!



A huge thank you goes out to all of you that read what I write. Having the ability to reach out to you every week is alike to air in the lungs for me!

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See you next week!




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