I started bird-watching in the fall of 1988 with a birding class given by Brooklyn Botanic Garden. My instructor was John Yrizarry and he set me on a path of excitement and joy that some 30 years later is still with me. I remember the day very well—a cool September Saturday.
Where the Visitor Center entrance is now was the old Herb Garden, and that was where I saw my first ruby-throated hummingbird. It was amazing. The bird flew forward and backward. It hovered in the air. Its wings beat so fast you couldn’t even see them. This little hummingbird favored red, bell-shaped flowers, darting quickly into them and then out. It didn’t have a ruby throat—I was later to learn that it was a female. My classmates and I were all hooked—and I had to find out more.
Joe Giunta has led bird walks for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Nature Conservancy and the South Fork Natural History Society and taught a beginning birding course for Summer Fest. He has birded extensively in the U.S., Panama, Belize, Venezuela, and Costa Rica.