It is time for me to start tracking my annual bird list. For the last three years, I’ve kept a written list of the birds I’ve sighted in their natural habits, mostly my backyard, but also along roadways and in parks. Last year, I spotted somewhere around 70 different species in Kansas and Massachusetts, including a Great Horned Owl and a Barred Owl, which were new to my list last year. This year, we’ll be traveling to Florida in a about a month, and then driving cross country to Massachusetts mid-summer, giving me plenty of opportunity to spot species outside of my normal realm. I’m hoping to top out at 100, and my list is starting out with a grand sighting.
1. Immature American Bald Eagle
That’s right. As rare as spotting a Bald Eagle is in Kansas, spotting an Immature specimen will be a once in a lifetime event. Returning to the office from a roadtrip to Leavenworth, we crossed the Kansas River just north of Eudora. I spotted the creature as it angled its wings to alight on the bare limb of a cottonwood tree less than 50 feet from the elevated roadway. I slowed down to observe as he settled on the perch. A-m-a-z-i-n-g! I wish I had a picture of my bird, but instead I had to look one up. –>
The list continues with other birds of prey, as many such species reside in this area year round, and other roadside birds.
2. Swainson’s Hawk
3. Red-Tailed Hawk
4. American Kestral (a small falcon known for using rapid wing beats to hover)
5. Wild Turkeys
6. Canada Geese
Moving on to more common birds viewed this morning searching for birdseed in the snow:
7. Cardinals – two male/female pairs with the males wearing their winter gray
8. Dark-eyed Junco
9. Blue Jay
10. American Crow
11. European Starlings
I am looking forward to a warming trend, which tends to bring to my birdbath a plethora of feathered friends, typically in a rush of 10 species in 20 minutes, including flickers, woodpeckers, titmice, and finches. In spring, the grackles will arrive in droves, taking over what’s left of my backyard trees. Robins will nest in the fence. In past years, we’ve witnessed many fledgling birds take their first flights, including cardinals blue jays, grackles and robins. I am still on a mission to find grosbeaks and tanagers. Since we’ll be in Cape Cod for a week, I will avail myself of the beach and nearby salt marshes for birding opportunities. Last year I observed Ospreys diving into the water for fish, and we stared down a ring-billed gull on our patch of beach.
To aid in identifying and tracking the species I find, I use the iBird Pro App on my iPad and iPhone, which offers hundreds of photos and bird calls. Sometimes just hearing the bird is enough, and sparrow species all look so much alike, identifying by sound is more discernible. I’ll update the list every few weeks with new species.