Jeff Cooper
Pleasant Grove, Utah

Website Photos Googled

People sometimes ask why I am so interested in birds. I think it is because they defy gravity with their own bodies for extended periods of time and over unfathomable distances. They appear wherever I go, they are diverse in their appearance and behavior, they come and go with the seasons, they sing, and they display behaviors that very often surprise me.

Birds fascinated me as a young boy growing up in Lexington, Kentucky. I was amazed at their variations in size, shape, color, behavior, song and preferred habitat. I enjoyed drawing pictures of birds and I thought it would be really fun to fly like a bird. The world was a happy place when I woke up to the songs of cardinals, mockingbirds, and robins during summer breaks from school. My attention was drawn to other things as I grew older and took on new responsibilities such as obtaining higher education, serving as a missionary in Japan, getting married, and raising three wonderful children.

My childhood fascination with birds was rekindled one summer night in 2009 while my wife and I were out on a date. We browsed in a bookstore while waiting for our turn to be seated at a restaurant. I picked up, thumbed through, and purchased my very first field guide to birds, the National Wildlife Federation's Field Guide to Birds of North America. A few days later my married daughter saw my new field guide and asked about it. We looked at some of the photos and talked about some of our favorite birds. About a month later my daughter gave me some very inexpensive 10x20 Bushnell binoculars for my birthday. I went for a walk with the binoculars along a canal near our home one Saturday morning and heard a strange noise coming from a thicket. It sounded like the cry of a mammal in pain. I walked with great curiosity toward the odd sound and beheld something I will never forget, a uniquely colored bird. I went home and drew a poor picture of the bird from my recollection. I then looked it up in my field guide and discovered that Utah has Spotted Towhees. Those deep red eyes blazing from a jet black hood, the pure white belly, and those rufous sides will be forever burned into my memory. I was hooked. I had to find out what else I'd been missing around me for so many years. Six months later, in the spring of 2010, I was armed with better binoculars and a digital SLR camera with hopes of capturing clear images of some of nature's most awesome creatures.

I've spent over 25 years working as a supply chain, operations, and customer care management executive and I still have "a few" years left to work so birding and bird photography will remain only hobbies for now.

Equipment: Nikon D5000 with AF-S 300mm f4 lens
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