Metallica's James Hetfield Is a Big-Time Birder: "I've Got Probably Six Bird Feeders"

"I know all the birds that come out there and I've got my little app that has bird noises"

Photos: Ryan Hodnett (nest), Tommy Holl (Hetfield)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Jun 25, 2024

We learned Metallica were friends to all creatures after a dog crashed their concert last August, and James Hetfield has now shared that when not on the road fronting the metal titans, birdwatching is the wind beneath his wings.

Hetfield spoke of his new favourite pastime and his broader love for animals on The Metallica Report podcast, joking, "I love all animals. I love them… especially with salt and cooked medium rare."

"No! I love the beasts of this planet, they're so cool," he continued. "On my time off, I'm obsessed with having a cigar on the porch and I've got probably about six bird feeders. I know all the birds that come out there and I've got my little app that has bird noises and I can see which one they are and I'll pull it up and talk to 'em and all that stuff.

"I love that stuff; I love it — until the bears are out of hibernation in Colorado and they've come and destroyed all my bird feeders."

Hetfield has previously spoken about his passion for hunting — a hobby that has drawn the ire of animal rights activists. However, he also feels the natural world and its inhabitants have much to teach us.

"I do live in a place where there's animals all the time and I get to see 'em. I admire the wolf, I admire the eagle, I admire the buffalo, I admire the elk," he said. "I like to think that humans have been so distracted by the worldly clamour that we've forgotten about survival and all these animals wake up thinking — well, I don't know what they're thinking — but what I visualize is they have to eat, so that's what they do.

"They go out and search for food and that is their purpose for the day. They don't need to worry about all the other shit. At the end of the day, being grateful for the fact that I had food, that's all I need for today."

One bird species we feel Hetfield should prioritize seeing is the metallic starling — binomial name Aplonis metallica — which is native to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Queensland, AU.

Last year, Hetfield and Metallica shared 11th studio album 72 Seasons, which earned the dubious honour of being among Exclaim!'s Worst Albums Covers of 2023.

Recently, Hetfield's son Castor announced he would be foregoing backyard birding adventures to tour North America with another spawn of Metallica.

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