Licking a banana ice cream cone and strolling the embarcadero, I stopped to watch an immature pied-billed grebe swimming close-by. A young man sitting on the wall watched me snap a picture.
“Why are you taking a picture of a duck?”
It’s not a duck, it’s a grebe.”
No, grebe, with a B.”
“What’s a grebe?”
“Well, it’s a diving bird, sorta like a duck….”
“I thought it wasn’t a duck.”
“It’s not a duck. Look at its feet, they are not webbed.”
“Huh. You’re right. It has kinda fingers on its feet.”
“Good. You’re right. They are lobed.”
“How do you know it’s a baby grebe?”
“It still has a little striping on the head. Young pied-billed grebes have striped heads.”
“Huh. I never saw one before. I thought anything not a gull was a duck.”
“Nope, totally not.”
As I put my camera back in my purse, preparing to walk back the way I had come, he said, “How do you know so much about birds?” I turned, looking at myself in his mirrored sunglasses, “I read a book.” He shook his head, “Wow, yeah, a book.” I left him shaking his head at such a novel concept.