Sunday, January 8, 2017

The First 50: A Birding Kickoff to 2017

I've always been one for lists. To-do lists, pros and cons lists, grocery lists, and random lists of things like middle names of the people I work with (for no real purpose other than my own curiosity and need to analyze things in written form). Therefore, it should come as no surprise that once I became a birder, I immediately took to making lists of my species sightings.

Birding lends itself to listing, although by no means are the two required to go hand-in-hand. For me personally, listing my sightings is a great way to fulfill my need to organize and understand data, as well as to have something tangible to reflect back upon. Like many birders, I keep multiple lists, including:

  • Life List- Total number of species seen
  • Yard List- Birds seen from home
  • County List- Birds seen in my home county, Macomb (as well as other county lists, though at this point, I tend not to focus much on county lists other than my home county)
  • Year List- Species seen each calendar year

Of these lists, the ones I focus on the most are my Life List, and my Macomb Year List. I do not currently have the time nor resources to go birding exhaustively throughout the state all the time, so I pour as much time and effort as I can into seeing as many birds as possible in my own county each year. In terms of County Year Lists, there are a few months which generally produce higher-than-average species totals. One of those is May, my favorite month, during the peak of spring migration. Here, neotropical migrants return, and warblers fill the trees with tiny, frenetic pops of color. Another species-heavy month is January, and this is simply because it is the beginning. Each new year brings species totals back to zero, which means a fresh start and clean slate... every bird is new again!

Just a week into the new year, I have reached 50 birds in my Macomb County Year List, so I decided to give you a little collage of the birds I've seen so far this year, in the order I've seen them. The only exception is bird #47, which is not pictured because it was too far away and moving too quickly. This sighting also happened to be my first life bird of the year, and it was a Glaucous Gull, which is a very large and beautiful, all-white gull. Enjoy!

January 1st

House Sparrow

American Goldfinch

House Finch

Dark-eyed Junco

American Crow

European Starling

Cooper's Hawk

Rock Pigeon

Red-tailed Hawk

Eastern Bluebird

Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin

Mute Swan

Tundra Swan

January 2nd
Canada Goose

Ring-billed Gull

Northern Cardinal



Long-tailed Duck

January 4th

Bald Eagle

Downy Woodpecker

American Wigeon

American Black Duck

Wild Turkey

Mourning Dove

American Tree Sparrow

January 5th

American Kestrel

Song Sparrow
Brown Creeper (eating a spider egg sac perhaps?)
Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Hairy Woodpecker

Winter Wren

January 6th

Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle
Common Goldeneye
Lesser Scaup

Greater Scaup (in a mixed raft of ducks... still need a solo pic)

January 7th

Peregrine Falcon
Herring Gull
Northern Shrike
Northern Saw-whet Owl

January 8th

Red-breasted Nuthatch, BIRD #50 for 2017!!

Happy Birding! (')< ♫ ♪