"What kind of bird's eggs are camouflaged?" That isn't one of the "first two questions" from the title of this post, but it is the one that eventually led to this post.
The person asking was a nice woman along on a Cape May Young Birders' field trip organized by Deb and Richard Crossley and being led by Glen Davis and me. The woman had brought her young daughter, Marisa, who I immediately liked because she was keen to study birds, and even sketched them in the field as we birded. Several of the kids on this field trip, at Cape May Point State Park, were pretty darn sharp, and getting sharper and more interested in birds thanks to what Richard and Deb are accomplishing by organizing these trips.
Anyhow, about the two questions. Whenever any new birder or non-birder asks about a bird, you want to ask two questions right away. First, "Where was it?"
"On the ground, not on the lawn but. . ." At this point I interupted the woman and suggested, "Killdeer?" before she finished. It had to be - a bird with camouflaged eggs, findable by a new birder, that was on the ground near a lawn.
But when I asked the second important question, "What did it look like?" the answer wasn't clear enough to confirm the i.d. But then I had a thought.
"Hey, Marisa, you didn't happen to draw the bird, did you?"
"I think so." How much better would we all be as birders if we only took the time to sketch birds or at least make some notes about them, the way young Marisa did? She leafed through her sketchpad, a collection of bright fanciful birds and some more down-to-earth sketches, all better than what I could manage (which is why I take photos instead of drawing).
Marisa held up the page with the bird with the camouflaged eggs, and I felt absolutely proud of her, though I'd met her only an hour before. Her drawing perfectly clinched the the identification. Here's Marisa's Killdeer: