It's a New Day

June 2017

Vol. 45, No. 3

Musings from the Blind Birder: Lists

Martha Steele

New Year’s Day can mean many things to many people but to birders, it is the day on which you begin anew with your annual lists. It follows all the activity of the Christmas Bird Count blitz and the month of December where you try, often futilely, to add just a few more species to the year’s list. But on January 1, when you notch your first Rock Pigeon, House Sparrow, or European Starling, you actually experience a few nanoseconds of glee over seeing even these species for the first time in the year. Racking up 50 or more species here in Massachusetts on the first day of the year gets that adrenaline going for the promise of the coming year.

Birding is of course full of friendly competitions for who sees the most bird species in any given geographic area. The advent of eBird has many birders checking daily to see what birds are being reported that can be added to the year’s list. Sometimes, we can get a little too serious about listing—never forget to enjoy the bird’s beauty and habitat— but the quest to find as many species as possible can be fun and satisfying. That quest can also give a sense of purpose to any given day, particularly during down times of birding, such as chasing after that Bald Eagle you need for your year list on an otherwise miserable and silent late winter day.

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