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!

Blackburnian Warbler, May 2019
Bird blending into bark.
Brown Creeper, November 2020.

This year I was excited to start out the year with our 100th species, Hooded Mergansers, swimming on our pond — 

Hooded Mergansers, January 2020.

— and then a few days ago, they were back! 

Hooded Mergansers, December 2020.

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! 

White Pelicans, December 2020.
White Pelicans, December 2020.
A pair of 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.