Your species bird list can go on, and on, and on…

The first thing I did when we moved to our new home was put up a bird feeder. Within the hour six mountain chickadees, four black-capped chickadees, two white-breasted nuthatches and three red-breasted nuthatches were busy chowing down at the neighbourhood’s newest feeding station.

It didn’t take long for word to spread, and by week’s end 11 different species were enjoying the offerings at our feeders. Since then, the number of bird species I’ve seen in our own yard is over 75.

Not all the birds actually eat at my feeders. Some only visit the bird bath for a quick drink, while others use our field as a short pit-stop on the way to somewhere else.

Any bird on my property makes it on to my backyard list, but of course only after I’ve made a positive identification.

I also keep lists of all the birds I’ve seen close to my yard and up and down the valley. So far I have very few game or water birds on this list, and with their additions I could very easily top 100.

Any one can start a bird list. Children, senior citizens and even the housebound can add a whole new dimension to backyard bird watching by doing so.

The easiest list to keep is a “check list” where you tick off each species you see.

My own check list has extra columns to record whether I’ve seen the male, female or juvenile of each species, if I’ve found their nest, how many eggs, when they hatched and for seasonal birds, the date they arrive. The dates help me know which birds I might expect at my feeder at a certain time of year, and is especially useful for predicting when my favourites, the hummingbirds will arrive.

Another list I and millions of other birders world wide have is a “life list”. This is simply recording every bird you have positively over your life time. My own includes over 300 species out of a possible 10,000+.

Some bird watchers have been known to fly all over the world just to add another species to their list. We’ve been to three other countries (Dominican Republic, Mexico and Costa Rica) and I usually spend the majority of my time looking for birds. My “world list” is growing every year.

The world record for sightings is close to 7,000, all spotted by one very serious birder!

Keeping a bird list is a fairly easy undertaking: actually identifying a certain bird can be much more confusing.

Many birds are so similar it’s next to impossible to ID, and even with a good field guide and binoculars, there are those birds that will forever remain unidentified.

Seasonal plumages can also create confusion.

For example, the drab olive coloured American goldfinch transforms in to a bright, lemon yellow bird come spring. Some species sexes are so similar that you could only tell who’s who by actually observing their courtship display and/or mating rituals.

In order to make a positive ID there are many factors to consider.

For instance, is it as big as a robin, small as a nuthatch, etc? Take note of its shape, beak type, behaviour and colours. This will narrow it down somewhat. Next look for wing bars, eye stripes and other important field marks.

Some field marks are visible when the bird is stationary, and some are only observed when the bird is flying. A junco because of its size might easily be confused with a sparrow at first glance but when the bird flies away, the white outer tail feathers tell you that it is definitely a junco.

Listing birds is a cheap and easy form of entertainment. They are also invaluable, when combined with other birder’s lists to keep track of abundance and varieties.

Vagrants from other regions or countries, swept in by storms may even adapt to our climate and remain or return year after year.

The past few years we have seen turkey vultures every summer and a few years ago three way off course cattle egrets.

You could be very surprised who might show up at your feeder! I know I have been!

Until next time….Happy birding!

Note: In my column on hummingbirds I forgot to mention the feeder solution ratio. It is one part sugar to four parts water.



Just Posted

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Four Paws Food Bank-Barriere helps area pet owners

Leia Kett (as in Star War’s Princess Leia) has been a Barriere… Continue reading

Barriere resident Donna Genier was happy to be able to gather with a small group of family and close friends to play a game of scrub last Sunday at the Barriere ball fields in memory of her youngest son Kurt Genier. Kurt passed unexpectedly in 2014 Since then, starting in 2015 an annual Memorial Slow Pitch Baseball Tournament has been held in Barriere to remember the young man who loved to play baseball. Unfortunately, the tourney had to be cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. (Elli Kohnert photo)
Kurt Genier remembered with ball game in Barriere

The annual Kurt Genier Memorial Slow Pitch Ball Tournament was not able… Continue reading

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read