WOW: Women's Older Wisdom

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The Birds are for Getting Old?

Pat TaubPat Taub
Guest post by Ann Tracy

When is it that one finally realizes that maybe they are indeed “old”?  Do we have individual epiphanies or do we barely notice when we prefer leggings or pants over tights or pantyhose and skirts. Or is that just me? Now at the age of 64, I’m finally able to not care about looking “sexy” or even “desirable”. I’m finally able to really only please myself and wonder why I was so affected by the reactions of others for all those years.

Ah, the self confidence that aging gives one, along with genuinely not caring what others say!

Why did I seek approval, covert or otherwise for the way I looked? Why did I worry about it so much?

Pat Taub, WOW blog,Portland, Maine

Ann celebrating the confidence and freedom she’s discovered as an older woman

That’s why I loved the way costume designer Jenny Beavan showed up to collect her award for Mad Max in pants, a faux leather jacket and a wonderful scarf this year at the Oscars. She didn’t get the applause because she wasn’t playing into the Disney princess shtick.

But the tipping point of realizing that you are getting on in years, isn’t only the arthritis speaking in a much louder voice, but it might have something to do with … wait for it …. birds.

As a young woman I had this idea in my head that birding was a sport for the elderly. Then I started to notice more about birds after we moved from Northern California to Southern Maine. I live in a two story house now and in the mornings as I get ready for the day, I will notice birds in the lilac bush we have in the yard that I can see from my bathroom window. I’ve even considered putting out a bird feeder but since we like to travel during Maine’s snowy winters, that wouldn’t be quite fair.

Then I noticed some of my Facebook friends from California increasing their postings of bird photos. More and more birds are showing up there. So time for some research. According to the newest report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service by Erin Carver, who admits that the ” … conclusions are the author’s and do not represent official positions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Pat Taub, WOW blog, Portland, Maine

Ann in her new pursuit as a “birder.”

“The tendency of birders to be middle-age or older is reflected in both the number of birders and participation rates. … the greatest number of birders were in the 55 plus age group. People over the age of 55 had the highest participation rates while the participation rate was particularly low for people ages 16 to 24.”

Of course just because I’m in the right age group doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and become a birder, which brings to mind getting up way too early and mucking around in swamps. But it’s just so curious that I’m noticing them more.


Ann Tracy is a Portland Maine artist, photographer and writer.

Pat Taub is a family therapist, writer and activist and life-long feminist. She hopes that WOW will start a conversation among other older women who are fed up with the ageism and sexism in our culture and are looking for cohorts to affirm their value as an older woman.