The Farm Bird List

I get excited by a good list. While it’s fun to tick off items from a checklist, a good list can be much more than that. One of my favorites of all my lists is my Bird List. Most birdwatchers keep some sort of bird list. The most usual one is the life list. A typical life list is a cumulative list of all the birds a birdwatcher has seen and identified in the wild. Captive or dead birds usually don’t count for life lists.

For me, writing down the names of the birds was just the starting point. My list started out in a simple black notebook with unlined pages. I would list down the birds and sometimes sketch out the ones I couldn’t identify. But it wasn’t enough. So I moved my list to a digital notebook where I could insert photographs and write about my first encounters with a particular bird. Soon, even the digital notebook wasn’t enough. I had become completely enamored with bird photography and was shooting hundreds of bird photos at every birdwatching trip. I needed a way to keep track of my growing bird list and my growing collection of bird photos. So my bird list became a full-fledged website with photos, anecdotes, and even videos called, what else — Tonji and Sylvia’s Bird List!

Like other birdwatchers, I like to tweak my bird lists into more specific and focused lists. In the US, birdwatchers have Christmas Bird Counts (birds seen on Christmas), World Series Bird Lists (birds seen in 24 hours during the World Series event), Backyard Lists, and State Lists. This year I’m making a year list for the first time as part of a contest that my Bird Club is running. A year list is a list of the birds seen in one calendar year.

But the list that’s closest to my heart right now is my Farm List. I’m excited to see that list grow as we learn more about the farm! We have seen 51 species on the farm during visits from April to August 2012. These are birds found right on the property and including the dirt road leading up to the property. The husband went off birdwatching near the mountains about one hour from the farm and saw other birds there, but those birds don’t count for the Farm List. To put this number in perspective, the entire country has 600 bird species, 607 if you include the introduced species. The husband and I have seen 360 out of the 607 species in four years of birdwatching. In the 700-hectare subdivision where we live, we have seen 61 species over the past four years.

Among the various sub-lists in my Bird List is the unfortunate Birds with No Pictures list. Sigh. It’s a sad list of birds that I saw, usually with binoculars, but didn’t get to photograph. Unfortunately, many of the birds that I’ve seen at the farm could be put in a list called “Birds Seen in the Farm But Not Photographed .. Yet!” This list is not as sad as “Birds with No Pictures” since I already have pictures of the farm birds, just not taken at the farm. To my further consternation, the pictures that I have taken at the farm are not that great! I have better ones from other locations. I have this expectation that I should have great pictures of the birds found in my home turf. But I don’t. This adds a mild sort of stress to my farm visits.

I can make a list of all my farm-related lists! So far, I have the Plant Catalog, Bucket List, Farm Bird List, and Birds Seen in the Farm But Not Photographed .. Yet List!

White-breasted Woodswallow

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