by Julie Kessler

My dad loved to watch birds. Officially, he would be referred to as a birdwatcher but to me his love for birds was bigger than just watching them. He loved to feed and house them as well. He rarely cooked for our family but would make a pungent smelling, home-made suet to attract just the right species into our backyard – his bird sanctuary. A section of the yard was not groomed to welcome prairie-loving species. He built bird houses that he strategically placed throughout the yard in hope that a blue bird, his favorite of them all, would choose to build nests there.



To spot one that was new was a momentous experience that would be recorded into his bird journal. In our household there was a set of binoculars strategically placed within arm’s reach in anticipation that a rare male would visit one of his many custom-made feeders. Dinner conversations were often interrupted because of a visit by one of his feathered friends. He would blurt out “Don’t move. Kids get my binoculars.” We would literally freeze so as not to scare it away, and the assigned child would crouch down on all fours, get the said binoculars and hand them to our anxious father.


As a typical, self-centered teenager, I did not have much appreciation for this passion and viewed it as an interruption. Now one year after his death, I’d give anything to have a conversation with him about his beloved pastime. He could identify them by their coloring, their call and song and even their silhouette in flight. A journal was kept of every sighting of every species that visited his property. These were charted by the date and frequency. He would share updates of the return of a rare visitor as if they were old friends having a reunion. But I never asked him why? What was it about birds that captivated him so?


I have had the good fortune to inherit the photos he captured of the birds and wildlife he adored. It’s clear that he wanted to improve his skills as a photographer and experimented with ways to creatively portray them in their natural habitat – his beloved backyard. He kept his photos organized in albums and a wooden card file drawer; labeled with the coveted Dymo label gun. These photos represent his favorite species enjoying a meal in his feeders or perched on a tree or bush that he likely planted himself. His journals were kept neatly in binders and notebooks.


It has been through these photos that I have come to understand more about this passion. He was the kind of person that enjoyed his own company but worked tirelessly to provide for his family. He loved us unconditionally and provided his family with everything we needed including a college education. And he appreciated his 4 daughters and wife for their individual beauty.

KesslerJulie111small-150x150Julie Kessler enjoys helping busy families manage their households and their photos through her residential and photo organizing services. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and a certified member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. You can contact Julie at and follow her on Facebook.