Sunday, January 04, 2009

Year birds

I decided to keep track of all of the bird species I see this year. I didn't really do it last year, although I went through my archives the other day and found I had blogged about 70+ species. The highlights were the Western tanager that made a brief appearance in my yard, and a probable cattle egret I saw across the road on the morning of my stepson's wedding (so I was too busy to properly document it!)

So far my list is pretty ordinary; my first sighting of the year was a goldfinch, and there have been numerous chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, crows, ravens, and others. But today Stan the Cardinal came for a long visit, so I was more than happy to add him to the list! He almost looked like he enjoyed a place out of the wind, in the company of other birds, more than the objective of finding food. I put a pie plate of sunflower seeds out, but Stan was not very interested. He did hover over it once, but for some reason found it not to his liking.

Other additions to my list today were downy woodpecker (for some reason I have not seen many of these lately!), common redpoll (one positive ID among the flock of goldfinches), and American tree sparrow, which was a cool find on the Christmas bird count! This one was pure luck; it was working some grass heads near the ground by the feeder, and it looked different enough for me to take a closer look.

One of my nemesis birds is the boreal chickadee. I have decided to increase my chances of finding it this year by going with Lynne to the Sax Zim Bog Winter Bird Festival in February! Am I excited?! Woo hoo!


Lynne said...

I've never done a year list. Maybe I'll give it a go too.

Sax-Zim will be a blast!
We WILL get a Boreal Chickadee!

Deb said...

Lynne- A year list is kind of fun because I find it gets me looking for all the "normal" species as well as the unusual ones. I saw a pileated woodpecker today!

Go Boreal Chickadee!!! :)

Jayne said...

I've never done a list either, though I do have a master list of yard birds seen here on Chickadee. :c) You all will have a ball at Sax Zim! Wish I lived closer.

Jim Ryan DC, RKC, RI said...

Uh-oh. You're turning into a birding monster. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Listing is the first sign of a serious birding habit. I of course have a life list, but have been keeping a Minnesota year list since 2002. I teeter on the edge of doing county listing and a yard list doesn't work too well for me since I've had 4 yards in the last 6 years.

It can be a much as you want to make it. I find it enjoyable to look back at the dates I first saw certain birds - I can actually remember circumstances quite clearly in some cases, and so I get to enjoy the bird all over again.

It also becomes neat phenologically, as you can predict about when you'll see certain species, if you're out looking.

Today I saw a large flock of Robins and Starlings at my place right in downtown St. Paul - They were feeding on hackberries.

Deb said...

Jayne- I suspect a year list would mean more here in the frozen North than it would where you live!

Jim- Yeah, or maybe I'm just getting old? :)

It does get interesting starting about March, continuing into May. I was surprised when I went back into my blog and found I had mentioned certain warbler species, and a wood thrush, during the spring migration. And I am getting to be a phenology nerd, so of course I enjoy keeping track.

I have not seen nor heard the robins around here since before the CBC; glad one group saw one!

Thanks for mailing my camera! :)

RuthieJ said...

That's cool Deb. I keep a year list just for Minnesota too on a Minnesota bird checklist (check at the WBU store in Duluth the next time you're up that way--they may have one to sell you). I'm amazed to see how much my totals have gone up over the years as I've learned more about birds and made a few conscious efforts to get out and see them. After attending the Sax-Zim festival last year, I was able to check off EVERY woodpecker species that Minnesota has!