Happy New Year! This month marks the tenth anniversary of my writing this weekly column for The Daily Courier. Boy, does time fly, but that is only fitting for one who owns a backyard wild bird store.
As we begin a new year, my thoughts are on birding adventures. Each year I like to set goals and start over. This is particularly true in regards to my hobby of bird watching.
I look forward to and anticipate seeing new bird species in the coming year. This is challenging for me because I have been birding for so long, that it is a rare occasion when I see a bird species that I have never seen before.
I have been keeping records of my bird sightings since I was about 12 years old. I still have all of my original hand-written notes from this formative time in my life. It is really fun to look back over a lifetime of birding and remember when I saw a particular bird species for the very first time.
In October of 1974, the Meteers, members of the Tucson Audubon Society, took an interest in me and gave me a birding journal titled ‘Birder’s Life List and Diary.’ The introduction in the book reads, “One of the most thrilling events in the experience of many birders is that moment when a new bird is seen, whether it is the fiftieth or five hundredth in his life list. It is to provide a means of recapturing these moments that this book was designed.”
It was on Nov. 12, 1974 in the Meteer’s yard in Tucson that I saw my first white-throated sparrow. It was in Tucson on Feb. 7, 1983 that I saw my first peregrine falcon. It was in the Uinta Mountains on Aug. 8, 1986 that I saw my first goshawk. I remember that exact moment with great clarity, as I recorded the experience in my Birder’s Life List and Diary.
To this day, keeping a record of my bird sightings continues to be an important part of my nature experience. When I went to Africa in 2009, I kept a record of all of the different bird species I saw. When I went to Brazil in 2011, I did the same – logging over 440 different bird species on my trip.
If you saw the movie ‘The Big Year,’ you may remember the three main characters were keeping a record of all of the birds they saw in North America in one calendar year, beginning on Jan. 1.
As 2014 gets under way, I feel motivated and excited to keep a record of all of the different bird species that I will see throughout the year. This year will be particularly exciting, as I plan to go to Japan in August to pick up my son, Landon, at the conclusion of his two-year mission. Birding in Japan will provide me with the opportunity to add many new bird species to my life list.
As we begin this new year, I extend to you an invitation to join me in keeping a record of the new birds you see in the coming year. A typical birding journal entry should include the name of the species observed, the date, the location and field notes about the experience, possibly even listing the names of other individuals you were with when you saw the new bird.
I look forward to hearing your birding stories throughout the new year. Here’s to a very birdy new year in 2014! Until next week, Happy Birding!