Friday, May 17, 2013

Back Yard Bird Lists

Great-horned Owl
Like many birders, I’ve just started documenting a back yard bird list for my house in Moss Beach, California. I’m pleased to report after 2 years in this location I have 74 bird species so far. My good friend Pete of Martinez California also has 74 bird species for his location. We are in a friendly completion and are currently in a dead heat.

Back yard bird counts usually involve counts made from a specific point, residence, gallery, or business. One such location is the resident quarters at the Farallones Islands which as of 2010 has a bird species count of 360. This is believed to be the most prolific in the United States. Paul Leham of New Jersey claims 300 + at his residence. The Farallones Islands have been criticized because the count is compiled by many individuals keeping records over a long time frame. However Peter Pyle a biologist who spent significant time at the Farallones claims 324 species documented by him alone on his visits to the Farallones.

#74 Hooded Oriole 5/3/13
# 73 Western Tanager 5/2/13
So my 74 species count is pretty modest in relationship to other bird spots, but it’s always fun to add a new bird to the list. Most of the birds on my list are common birds found in this area, Brewer’s Black Birds, House finches and sparrows, Scrub Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos, Mourning Doves, California Quail and Ravens. Some of the slightly unusual birds have been an Osprey, Kestrel, Killdeer and my favorite occasional visitor, Great-horned Owl. Some of the recent additions have been Cedar Waxwings, a Hooded Oriole and a beautiful Western Tanager.