Saturday, March 7, 2020

2019 Backyard Bird List

It's time!! That's right, it's time to be counting the birds in your backyard. We've kept an annual tally for a number of years now, and 2019 was a fantastic year, with a total count of 45 species (see list at end of post). That's 10 more than we've gotten in recent years. Why so many in 2019, when there was a lot of news about bird populations declining (see this Scientific American article and this Audubon article)? Well, we're not counting total numbers, so we it's quite possible that the number of birds in our backyard have decreased. We're just counting species, and everyone in the family has gotten better at birding due to this yearly challenge. It's not uncommon for someone to see a bird and have it be a topic of discussion at dinner or to check the list to see if it's already on it. Birds may also be doing better in our remote part of the Great Basin because it is so remote. Development takes place at a very slow scale, with about one new building per year in our town. At that slow rate of growth, there's still plenty of habitat for the wildlife.

The Backyard Bird Challenge is super simple, just observe what's in (or can be seen or heard from) your backyard.

Last year this osprey showed up in May. We don't see many ospreys, so it was a real treat.

Western meadowlarks are common around here, but they are harder to detect when they're not singing for a mate. I've seen them not far from our house, but not in view of our backyard yet. It won't be long until they're singing and easy to detect.

Long-billed curlews are a species in trouble, but they are doing well out here on the ranch. They are a fun bird to watch, as they look a little awkward and make strange noises.

We have Great Horned Owls hooting regularly in our yard. Two years ago we were lucky enough to have them nest in a tree, but last year they went somewhere else. We're crossing our fingers they will be nearby this year.

American Kestrels are another species that are in decline. Fortunately we have a breeding pair in our yard almost every year. They move their nest around. I was lucky to get this photo of a pair last spring. I couldn't even see the lizard until I cropped the photo (which had been shot with a telephoto lens). I hadn't seen any lizards on the ground at that point, but the kestrels had.

Here's last year's list. This year's list is in the sidebar. We're up to 12 species so far as of early March.

1. Common Raven (1.1.19)
2. Black-billed Magpie (1.1.19)
3. Pinyon Jay (1.1.19)
4. Chicken (1.1.19)
5. European Starling (1.1.19)
6. Northern Flicker (1.3.19)
7. Eurasian Collared Dove (1.7.19)
8. Dark-eyed Junco (1.8.19)
9. American Robin (1.8.19)
10. Great Horned Owl (1.9.19)
11. House Sparrow (1.10.19)
12. Bald Eagle (2.17.19)
13. Red-tailed Hawk (3.1.19)
14. Canada Goose (3.2.19)
15. Sandhill Crane (3.4.19)
16. Killdeer (3.24.19)
17. Turkey Vulture (3.24.19)
18. American Kestrel (3.30.19)
19. Western Meadowlark (3.30.19)
20. Pine Siskin (4.8.19)
21. American Goldfinch (4.12.19)
22. Yellow-rumped Warbler (4.14.19)
23. Sharp-shinned Hawk (4.15.19)
24. Great Blue Heron (4.23.19)
25. Barn Swallow (4.27.19)
26. Western Kingbird (4.27.19)
27. Brewer's Blackbird (4.26.19)
28. Yellow Warbler (4.27.19)
29. Mallard (4.27.19)
30. Yellow-headed Blackbird (4.27.19)
31. Rough-winged Swallow (4.27.19)
32. Osprey (5.6.19)
33. Bullock's Oriole (5.2.19)
34. Northern Mockingbird (5.10.19)
35. Hummingbird (4.12.19)
36. Western Wood-Pewee (5.12.19)
37. Thrush (Swainson's or Hermit) (5.12.19)
38. Western Tanager (5.12.19)
39. Western Bluebird (5.12.19)
40. Cattle Egret (5.24.19)
41. Common Nighthawk (6.7.19)
42. Common Poorwill (6.7.19)
43. Long-billed Curlew (6.12.19)
44. Mountain Bluebird (12.15.19)
45. White-crowned Sparrow (12.15.19)

Our last species of the year was the White-crowned Sparrow, which we probably would have gotten earlier in the year if we had been a little more observant. It's fun guessing what we might get this year!

If you decide to do your own Backyard Bird Challenge, good luck!

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