Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bird Listing

Birders love to keep lists.  Some people keep a list for the year and try to find as many species as possible. This is called a "Big Year".  Other people are more casual and relaxed about listing, but still keep a list for the year.  Some keep a list for a day, or a week, or a month.  Some keep lists for certain locations.  But most every birder has a "life list", every bird they've ever seen (or heard) in their entire life. 

There are also "rules" to list keeping.  Officially, the American Birding Association has a list of rules for those keeping a "Big Year" list competively.  But most birders adopt and abide by their own set of rules.  Most will count a bird if it is heard and 100% identifiable by ear.  I count "by ear" birds because some (like whip-poor-will and owls) are extremely difficult to find, but much easier to hear.

I keep three lists.
1. Life List (all of the birds I've seen since I've been birding, 5 years total)
2. Yard List (birds seen or heard within my yard, includes fly-overs)
3. Cabin List (all species found within our 30 acres of land: both wooded and pasture)

In addition to the three lists above, I keep lists each time I go out birding.  I enter these lists at eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society's citizen science project. Learn more about it here.
Because I am birding the same location over and over, I tend to be very skilled at a certain number of bird species. I see the same species, and combinations of, all the time.  However, when someone new shows up, it is a cause for celebration and a challenge for me to learn a new bird.

Here is the list from Memorial Day weekend: (30 acres of pasture and woods)
1. eastern phoebe
2. northern cardinal
3. eastern bluebird
4. turkey vulture
5. barred owl
6. ruby-throated hummingbird
7. mourning dove
8. american robin
9. eastern kingbird
9. common yellowthroat
10. chipping sparrow
11. song sparrow
12. brown-headed cowbird
13. european starling
14. baltimore oriole
15. eastern wood pee-wee
17. field sparrow
18. scarlet tanager
19. wood thrush
20. carolina chickadee (active nest!)
21. tufted titmouse
22. red-bellied woodpecker
23. blue jay
24. american crow
25. american goldfinch (as seen from the cabin kitchen window!)

26. house finch
27. hooded warbler
28. yellow warbler
29. tree swallow
30. house sparrow
31. red-winged blackbird
32. red-eyed vireo
33. white-breasted nuthatch
34. brown thrasher
35. pileated woodpecker
36. carolina wren
37. ovenbird

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