Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Online Bird Course

I've been working on this little online course/resource to study birds. Below are links to the specific sections or "lessons" in the course.

Global Big Day - May 9, 2020

I'm reviving my blog because I want to document my first ever "big day," as serious birders call it. Since we've been quarantined because of Covid-19, I've re-kindled my love for birding. I've been out a lot on my own and a bit with Josh Day (my co-worker). We've been careful to follow physical distancing guidelines while we've searched for and observed many birds. When I saw that Cornell was sponsoring a Global Big Day on May 9th, I asked Josh if he wanted to do it with me. He was game and then we thought we'd reach out to birding expert, Merrill Webb (or Mr. Webb and I call him), and see if by chance he was up for the adventure and if he felt comfortable and safe doing so if we wore masks the whole time. Fortunately for us, he wanted to come. He said in his response, "you know you have to go from 5:30 AM until after dark, right?" and I replied, "well I'm up for it." Josh and I both were although I'm sure we both had a much less intense idea in our heads. But we both knew what a special opportunity we had to spend so many hours with Mr. Webb (my former high school teacher at Provo High), learning from the best.

Yesterday we set off for our "big day" and what an experience! It was a blast. It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect. We saw a total of 105 species in about 14 different areas in Utah, Wasatch, and Davis counties. I saw 10 "lifers," which are new species that I've never seen in my life.

Mr. Webb plans out these days in detail. We sent him the route that Josh had planned out with a string of "hot spots" for birding. Mr. Webb went through and predicted which birds we could see in those areas. If we had seen all of the birds he predicted, we would have seen about 150 species! I blame some of it to the fact that some of the habitats we planned were popular recreation spots, such as Aspen Grove and Vivian Park/South Fork Park. We didn't see an American Dipper (one of my favorite birds, most often found in rivers), or any woodpeckers - zero, not even a Flicker! We also didn't see any Jays and we could have seen Steller's, Scrub, and Pinyon. It was a great day with about 14 hours of birding and I'm exhausted!

Here are the 105 species of birds we did see (organized taxonomically, not alphabetically):
Canada Goose
Trumpeter Swan
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
American Wigeon
Green-winged Teal
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Pied-billed Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Long-billed Curlew
Red Knot
Least Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope
Solitary Sandpiper
Franklin's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Common Loon
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
White-faced Ibis
Turkey Vulture
Golden Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Great Horned Owl
Burrowing Owl
Belted Kingfisher
American Kestrel
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Gray Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Loggerhead Shrike
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Marsh Wren
European Starling
Sage Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
Mountain Bluebird
American Robin
House Sparrow
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Chipping Sparrow
Brewer's Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Green-tailed Towhee
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Bullock's Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Orange-crowned Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-headed Grosbeak

We did our part to be responsible "citizen scientists" by recording what and when and where we saw everything and submitting our lists to eBird (a global database of bird lists submitted by citizen scientists all over the world). eBird is an amazing resource if you want to get into birding because you can see what has been seen and when and you can plan your excursions accordingly.