It was New Year's Day when it occurred to me, looking at my friend's bird feeder and the birds visiting it, that I'd never maintained a list of all the birds I've seen in one year.
And that, simply enough, is how I started what I came to half-jokingly refer to as my Moderately-Sized (as opposed to Big) Year. I happened to have an App on my phone that allowed me to make a checklist of birds and I just started right there, over breakfast. First bird of the year was a Song Sparrow. I just recently hit bird number 151, an Eastern Wood-Peewee, so I feel like I ought to write something about all this.
First, here are my rules:
1) The bird must be listed in the Peterson Birds Pocket Edition iPhone App.
2) The bird must be alive.
Corollary to Rule 2: This means captive birds are fair game. Somebody call the ABA police.
If I check off the name of a stuffed specimen, it best be an extinct/nearly extinct species (some of which are listed in the PBPE because why not? If you're wondering, this hasn't come up yet.)
3) I must either see the bird or hear it.
Corollary to Rule 3: The "Red-Eyed Vireo Corollary". I am allowed to check an unseen-but-heard bird off my list as long as I or a companion can I.D. the call with reasonable accuracy.
I picked a heck of a year to start doing this. I've been traveling quite a lot, mostly for family events. This has, as you may have noticed, kept me off the Internet but has kept me in nature. The world is more alive when you pay especial attention to the birds.
Now, a few thoughts on the Peterson Birds Pocket Edition App: It's... okay. At this point I'm using it as a checklist mostly. It's convenient more than anything else, and is not at all a replacement for a good dead tree edition field guide, especially if you're a beginner. Being able to listen to recordings of the birds is kind of nice, but the Audubon Nature Guide apps are far better in that respect, as they have a wider variety of sounds.
Sketch of the Unspecific Length of Time! I'm going to go ahead and say that this Bald Eagle was a highlight.