Even Still More Birds of a Radiological Feather

June 17, 2016

Radiologists, birds, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Longer term readers may know that I relocated just shy of 1.5 years ago. Same general area, but a nicer house on a better chunk of turf. Really, considering my previous digs, pretty much anything would have constituted an upgrade.

I suddenly had big windows through which I could gaze upon the outdoors. Previously, I had slit-like windows which were usually shuttered because 1) I was working nights at the time, and needed to keep it dim while I slept during daylight, and 2) They afforded uninteresting views of nothing more than the immediately adjacent neighboring houses.

In the new digs, I could actually see nature outside, and more than a few creatures in it, putting on a constant show for me. To entice them, I put a few bird feeders around the property, and clever little fellows that they are, the avians seemed to immediately know that a buffet had opened.

Jays, sparrows, crows, cardinals, robins, doves, grackles…more or less what one would expect. They, like anyone looking to make a living (radiological or otherwise), were doing as the late, great Sam Kinison once put it: Going where the food is.

More interesting have been the unexpected visitors. The most noteworthy being a pair of ducks.

There are more than a few other waterfowl in the area, as there are several nearby wetlands; these two, in particular, evidently took note of my swimming pool and decided it would be a fine hangout. Only secondarily did they discover that there was plenty of fallen seed beneath the bird feeders nearby…nevertheless, soon the ducks were making repeated strolls between swimming and munching.

Quackerjack and Ms. Waddles, as I took to calling them (bonus points for those recognizing the cartoon origin of the male’s moniker), are the main inspiration for the current edition of this blog. Unlike the other birdbrains mentioned above, the ducks deviated from their usual haunts and habits to discover my little anatine haven, unknown to their brethren remaining on the beaten path. Until and unless others follow them, they have their own private swimming hole with adjacent snack bar.

And, for the most part, others have not tagged along. There was one additional mallard for a couple of weeks this spring, but either he got tired of playing third wheel or the original pair found a way to notify him that his presence was unwelcome, and he stopped turning up.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"49571","attributes":{"alt":"Lesson","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_7436493751440","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"6005","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 153px; width: 170px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©CoraMax/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

Other unexpected visitors have shown similar entrepreneurial spirit, for instance an occasional pheasant (I had no idea they even existed around here until s/he emerged from the underbrush at my yard’s edge), and some woodpeckers who came to investigate the (non-wooden) bird feeders. I had no idea that they would prefer the contents to trees, or indeed houses, in the area…and for all I know they were just as pleasantly surprised as I. Though I have to admit I’d be less comfortable with their presence if my house were substantially wooden.

To be sure, such straying from usual haunts can pose risks. There might, for instance, have been predators lurking in my yard, or simply a lack of amenities to make the unusual visitors’ presence worth their while.

For them, at least, it has turned out to be zero risk and all reward. Not something they could have known when first entering the situation…something that can also be said of a radiologist who decides to carve out his own niche by starting his own practice. Perhaps setting up shop where others have not, or offering services not yet developed by other rads nearby. Even simply honing skills that colleagues eschew (cardiac imaging, virtual enterography, etc.) to improve their competitive edge.

Taking such risks, even if only to discover that one wasted some time and/or effort that didn’t pay off, is not for everyone. Much like the sparrows and jays above, there is plenty of conventional work in our field, and there’s no shame in it if one just wants to “go where the food is,” following the pack. The crowd around my bird feeders is uniformly well-fed, and, as far as I can tell, content.