New Year, New Birds

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

What birds are on your "To-See-List?" Looking for new birds, new behaviors, or new experiences provides an exciting challenge for birders!

American Pipit singing on territory in alternate plumage.
An American Pipit in breeding plumage sings while on its territory.

The New Year brings a fresh perspective and fresh energy to our hobbies. For bird watchers, new species are often the target resulting from fresh energy. However, courting, mating, feeding, caring for young, defending territory, and unusual behavior are all behaviors that can excite a birder beyond seeing a new species.

In this post, I challenge all birders to try something new this year!

Observe a Courtship or Display

Wyoming's upland game species are known for their FANTASTIC courtship displays. The Greater Sage-Grouse is well-known for its mating antics, with males strutting around smacking air sacs against their chests. They remind me of a bunch of human males with their chests stuck out, catcalling women at a bar. For humans, it's at minimum a creepy behavior. For birds, we describe it as beautiful, interesting, astounding, and many other positive adjectives.

Watch a Nest

This accomplishment is tricky. I challenge you to find a nesting bird without disturbing the nest or the birds in it. Why find a nest? Parental behavior in birds is unique! Sit and watch the male bring food to the female or count the number of times the female brings food to the chicks. Maybe you can even identify what the chicks are being fed. If the thought of finding nests is daunting, start with a large nest, like an Osprey. Osprey nests are usually found near major water sources, and Osprey are fairly acclimated to sharing their nesting territory with humans.

Find an Oddly Colored Bird

Plumage aberrations are far more common in birds than reported. I challenge you to find a "leucistic," melanistic, or oddly colored bird. Maybe you found your own cinnamon wren. Or possibly you photographed a white hawk! Whatever the oddity, find a weird bird, photograph it, and post it in the Flocking Forum!

Go Birding with Someone New

Many birders are flocks of one. For 2020, I encourage you to go birding with a new group, club, or friend. Birding with new people can provide new perspectives, new birds, new opportunities, new identification tips, and lasting friendships. At a time when society seems to be splitting at the seams, let's sew ourselves back together with a birding adventure.

Explore a New Habitat or Location

We often visit the same "patch" over and over. This year, try birding a new spot! Maybe it's further from society, harder to access, or simply a spot you did not know existed. No matter your reason, load up your gear and go, go, go. New habitats often mean new birds. Do you need a better reason?

Report a Hybrid or an Intergrade

Sometimes, we find a bird that does not seem to fit the field guide descriptions. Sometimes we are overthinking a simple bird, but occasionally, we have found a bird that does not fit nicely into a single species or subspecies. In 2020, take a picture, ask questions, and identify a hybrid! Taking on a challenge, like hybrid identification, can be rewarding! If you have an itch for finding an intergrade, the Yellow-rumped Warbler and the Northern Flicker are two species that provide ample opportunities for identification challenges.

Try eBird

I know. I constantly push this at you. But eBird is a WONDERFUL tool that can be helpful to you AAAAND helpful to birds. Try it. Try it. Try it. Please? I will help you get started. Create an account, here.

and finally.... drumroll...

Get a Life Bird

Shameless plug here. But I really do encourage you to find a new bird for your life-list this year. If you do not enjoy tracking your life-list, perhaps you can track your year list! And of course, if you are tracking your species list, you should reward yourself with a symbol of your achievement...

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