Our Farm Bird List Grows to 101!
Ever since we moved to our family farm 11 years ago, I have been doing my best to document all the species that live here or pass through.
I got a digital camera with a good zoom for Christmas of 2010, and I learned to take it with me every time I went outside. The camera allowed me to sneak up on the birds virtually, and then later I could spend a leisurely hour looking at the shots and trying to match them up to the pictures in field guides.
2010: I got a digital camera with good zoom ability.
2011: I started using eBird.
Got a total of 37 species on our farm’s list.
2012 – 2016: Added about 10 species a year (20 in 2014), bringing total to 93.
2017- 2018: Only added 2 species a year, bringing total to 97.
Last year I also added two — a Blackburnian Warbler as it migrated through, and a Brown Creeper. I didn’t get great pictures, but good enough to prove their ID. The Brown Creeper was back this November and I got better pictures, but still not great. The camera cannot distinguish between the bird and the tree bark it is on!
This year I was excited to start out the year with our 100th species, Hooded Mergansers, swimming on our pond —
— and then a few days ago, they were back!
And when I went outside to take photos of them, I noticed a flock of huge white birds flying slowly over the tree line. They were White Pelicans!
I live about 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, where I see pelicans all the time, but I never expected to see them here. I have seen a few pelicans inland on a lake about 40 miles away, so I knew it was possible they would be around, but it was still a very lovely surprise.
As I was looking back over my eBird records, I was struck by how spotty my records are, especially for the months of August and September. That doesn’t mean there are no birds here during those months; it just means it is too hot for me to have enthusiasm for looking around! This coming year, I am going to try to do a better job of recording my sightings regularly.
So good. I love recording and documenting birds at my place. I often wonder if I should count those who fly over but not land eg a squadron of Pelicans who were heading inland to their breeding place.
That is a good point. eBird has a category of behavior for “fly over” and I need to make that notation on my list. The other exciting ones that have flown over were sandhill cranes and bald eagles — I counted those too.
Seeing the Sandhill Cranes would have been fabulous. Bald Eagles would be constant?
You’d think since they’re the national bird, they would be around a lot, but no. When I was a kid they were very rare; now there are a few pairs in this part of Texas, but they are still not common. I have seen them in Wyoming and Alaska, but I am still excited when they show up here.
I hope there is a breeding program going somewhere and as much protection as they can have
Nice documents in your photos. We have a pretty long list, too. It includes permanent species residents and those who are just passing through. We have hundreds and thousands of white pelicans in the summer months. The Mississippi flyway is an hour east.
That is very cool about the pelicans there in Iowa. I actually lived there when I was little, but I never saw a pelican or knew they were around.
100 species documented, impressive!
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