ACK’s Chris Hackerd, co-owner and VP of Store Operations, recently discovered a passion for bird watching. Follow him through a series of blogs documenting his adventures as he partakes in a series of trips to gratify his newfound hobby. In his first of many, Chris tells us all about how it all got started.

I recently watched a movie, that when it was in theaters, I thought looked like a poor attempt to revive the essence of Steve Martin in the great Three Amigos. It is called A Big Year and the cover reeked of poor slapstick comedy. But when I finally watched it I found myself completely involved in world of birding or bird watching. It was fascinating and I had to learn more.

I spent days learning about the sport, hobby, obsession or whatever you want to call it and now I am hooked. My friends and co-workers think I’m loony, but they’re used to ridiculous stories from me. Usually though, it’s stories that end with “…can’t believe I didn’t get [insert adjective here]” (maimed, dead, broken would be a few good examples). Birds, really? I see birds every day so how could this be exciting? Well it’s the identification of species and the investigation to what I’m looking at that inspires me. My first bird I successfully located was a Grackle. If you’re snickering at me, I get it. My wife was quick to dismiss my excitement at locating a bird that is literally found by the thousands in Austin. The fact of the matter was, I didn’t know what it was and my life never really required me to learn what it was.

I now have a life list I’ve created to catalog the birds I’ve seen. I need a camera with a lens because these dang birds will not sit still long enough for me to figure out what the heck they’re sometimes! Here is a setup that I am considering using. I’ve got the iPhone and I own a set of binoculars so I figured this would be all I need. I also got my son a set of binos as well so he can trail along with me and help! I have pamphlets and waterproof notebooks to keep notes in.

The next step is to incorporate my new passion and my job. I’ve got an opportunity coming up to get on the water in a pedal driven kayak for a few days and I plan to fully engage in my new hobby! Hands free bird watching on the water, I’m such a dork but I like it!

Do you bird watch from a kayak? Any advice or suggestions for a newbie?

Chris @ACK


  1. I started my lifer list in 2008. I just recently saw the movie & loved it! My husband and I love the outdoors so joining my backyard birding with our lifestyle was easy. We have 3 kids, a camper, and a passion to go…so now I never leave without my Kaufman Field Guide. Thus far I have identified 50 species across 7 states. Which leaves me regretful that I didn’t discover my love for birds sooner; since there are 19 other states with my zig zag pattern all over them…((sigh)) as I ponder what species I casually overlooked. So let my kids chuckle at their bird nerd mom…all the while I’m strategically bringing dear ‘ol dad to the other side! His next purchase are his own binoculars, b/c I refuse to share mine. As for me a kayak for a different perspective on birding is in the very near future. Which is what brought me to your website. I heard you left your THD roots to chase other dreams. Looks like we both did well old friend.

  2. Grackle? If you want to see them in their natural habitat come to HEB parking lot. There are millions of them.

    Real birds worthy of your observance would be (Here in Texas) Kingfisher, Osprey, Several species of Hawk, shoreline birds like the Cardinal, Bluejay, Mockingbirds, Hummingbirds working the flowering vines and bushes, Owls too if moving about on the water at dawn/dusk, migratory birds – geese, ducks, etc. These are ones I have seen in the Stillhouse/Lake Belton area of central Texas. The coastal areas are covered up with birds both migratory and permanent residents.

    1. Thanks for the comment Paul. I couldn’t agree with you more. Since that Grackle I’ve cataloged a total of 36 species and just got done with a trip to the coast that was amazing for watching. I’ll have another blog out soon!