Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bird Sightings - 2014

Downy Woodpecker
One of the first books that I read in 2014 was The Big Year by Mark Obmascik.  This was the first I'd ever heard of a "Big Year," and my bird-loving, personal-stat-keeping heart was immediately intrigued.  Now, I knew I'd never really be a contender in a real Big Year, but I thought it might be interesting to keep a running total of the birds I positively identified this year.  Have my own little mini-Big Year, so to speak.  And it was.
American Coots
The grand total, as you can see below, was 83 species of birds.
Juvenile Eastern Kingbird
For comparison, Sandy Comito, the winner of the 1998 Big Year which was highlighted in the book (and later movie--he was the one played by Steve Martin), saw 748 species in one year.  But, I also didn't spend $60,000+ birding last year.  I mean, I love birds and all, but that is crazy talk.
Turkey Vultures
It is interesting to note though that I have, in my whole birding life, only positively identified 158 different species.  That means in just this one single year I saw half the number of species I've ever seen.  I thought that wasn't too shabby, especially since I wasn't making any concerted effort to seek out more birds.  I just find them wherever I go--to the park, walking to work, visiting relatives, while hiking, etc.
Ring-billed Gulls 
I am 100% positive I saw more than 83 species of bird last year.  Positive.  But, I only count those I am 100% certain about my identification on.  Plus, there are whole subgroubs I don't even bother with--like gulls.  I am not expert enough yet and they are too darned variable from year to year and species to species.  I don't even try to ID them.  I can nail the Ring-billed Gull and that is it.
American Avocets
I cannot decide yet--and there aren't many birds about yet so the issues hasn't been pushed--if I will continue recording my annual bird sightings in this manner.  I do like keeping personal stats though, so I might.  I'd also like to record the first-of-year sightings for birds that share my neighborhood.  I've read the consistency of their return dates is quite remarkable.  It seems like a fine bit of the natural rhythm of things to be aware of.  I shall try.
Western Meadowlark
The list below is no particular order.  I swear at one time it was chronological by date sighted, but that is no longer that case somehow.  So, there it is.
Unknown tracks in the snow from, I suspect, a Eurasian Collared Dove
Birds IDs - 2014:
  1. Great Horned Owl
  2. Bufflehead
  3. Clark's Nutcracker
  4. Gray Jay
  5. Common Goldeneye
  6. Spotted Sandpiper
  7. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  8. Double-crested Cormorant
  9. Mountain Chickadee
  10. Ruby Crowned Kinglet
  11. Belted Kingfisher
  12. Common Nighthawk
  13. Eastern Kingbird
  14. Solitary Sandpiper
  15. Barn Swallow
  16. Blue Jay
  17. Gray Catbird
  18. Wild Turkey
  19. Brown-headed Cowbird
  20. Mountain Bluebird
  21. Tree Swallow
  22. Violet-green Swallow
  23. Rufous Hummingbird
  24. Lesser Scaup
  25. Cinnamon Teal
  26. Killdeer
  27. Osprey
  28. Common Merganser
  29. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  30. Cassin's Finch
  31. Ruddy Duck
  32. Dark-eyed Junco (regular and pink-sided varieties)
  33. Yellow-headed Blackbird
  34. American Coot
  35. American Wigeon
  36. Barrow's Goldeneye
  37. Townsend's Solitaire
  38. American White Pelican
  39. Red-winged Blackbird
  40. Sandhill Crane
  41. Hairy Woodpecker
  42. Mallard 
  43. Western Meadowlark
  44. American Avocet
  45. Ring-billed Gull
  46. European Starling
  47. Merlin
  48. Great Blue Heron
  49. American Robin
  50. Turkey Vulture
  51. Northern Flicker
  52. Downy Woodpecker
  53. Rough-legged Hawk
  54. Red-tailed Hawk 
  55. Common Raven
  56. American Kestrel
  57. Mourning Dove
  58. Canada Goose
  59. Bald Eagle
  60. Black-billed Magpie
  61. Black-capped Chickadee
  62. Eurasian Collared Dove
  63. American Crow
  64. House Sparrow
  65. House Finch
  66. Rufous Hummingbird
  67. Solitary Sandpiper
  68. Black Phoebe
  69. Brandt's Cormorant
  70. Brown Pelican
  71. Whimbrel
  72. Says's Phoebe
  73. Snowy Egret
  74. Cassin's Kingbird
  75. Nuttall's Woodpecker
  76. Northern Mockingbird
  77. Western Scrub Jay
  78. Gila Woodpecker
  79. Canyon Wren
  80. Peregrine Falcon
  81. Eared Grebe
  82. Western Grebe
  83. Surf Scooter

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