“For most of my life, I didn’t pay attention to birds. Only in my 40s did I become a person whose heart lifts whenever he hears a grosbeak singing or a towhee calling and who hurries to see a golden plover that’s been reported in the neighborhood, just because it’s a beautiful bird, with truly golden plumage, and has flown all the way from Alaska. When someone asks me why birds are so important to me, all I can do is sigh and shake my head, as if I’ve been asked to explain why I love my brothers.”
– Jonathan Franzen, in the January 2018 issue of National Geographic (a must read, by the way)
A few of my favorite 2017 birds
For me, this was the first year of “listing” birds – a topic I reflected on in an earlier post. My goal for the year was to submit a checklist each day….and that I did, submitting a total of 508 checklists without missing a single day (admittedly, a few lists were done from my couch and looking into my backyard). On a Sea and Sage Audubon trip to Mammoth Lakes in July, I sat in a hotel room with Shirley Reynolds (a fantastic and inspirational birder and friend I was lucky to meet that weekend) and she introduced me to eBird alerts. Uh-oh. The ability to see a list, every day, of your “needs” – birds reported locally that are not on your checklist. I was hooked.
I could go on and on about the meaning of these experiences beyond the numbers – all the places they took me, all the new and unexpected people i’ve met, all of the moments of peace that I so desperately need this year, and all of the beauty. But, I also love numbers. And data. And so I feel quite satisfied looking back at the year from that perspective.
A few more of my favorite 2017 birds
So, here it is, my year in numbers:
- 508 checklists submitted to eBird
- 337 species observed
- 300 species observed in California
- It was a close call! I had 299 on 12/31. Missed an Ovenbird at Mile Square Regional Park. Missed a White Wagtail at Prado Regional Park. Found a Stilt Sandpiper at Salton Sea (thanks to Carly! Phew!)
- 95 species observed in New York
- July was the month I observed the greatest number of species (161)
- January was my quietest month (73 species)
- I added 189 life birds to my list
- My life list, at the end of 2017, was 343 species
- So far, in 2018, I have seen 133 species of birds...and with a trip to South Africa on the books, I think I will quickly surpass my 2017 numbers.
First bird of 2017 (Vermilion Flycatcher) and last bird of 2017 (Stilt Sandpiper)
Even more of my favorite 2017 birds