Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Confessions of a Closet Lister

The only bird list I have kept for years is of the birds I see on our farm. Until Paul Sullivan of the Oregon Bird Association started hounding birders for their lists to publish, I didn't publicize my one meager list. It was just for me. Now Paul has created so many categories that my one list of 146 birds I've seen on this farm since we moved here in 1977 fits into four of his categories: life list for Yamhill county, for a favorite birding spot, for a 15 mile diameter circle and for a nonmotorized list. I told him it is going to look suspicious that the number of species beside my name will be exactly the same on all four lists.

I used to keep a life list but got tired of the constant combining and separating of species with the consequent reduction and increase in life list numbers. Besides, I believe in improving habitat, citizen science, and observing and learning about birds, rather than just running around the countryside for the sole purpose of lengthening a list. But I have a confession to make: I have started a list solely for the purpose of running around the countryside to lengthen that list... and it's all my friend Dawn's fault.

Dawn is a relatively new birder... and a lister... which means she doesn't have a huge long life list yet. It's fun to bird with Dawn and after the first time we saw a bird together that she had never seen before and I saw how excited she got, I was hooked. So my new list is: Dawn's life birds that I've helped her find.

Last night we added Short-eared Owl to her life list. She said that was the sixth life bird I'd led her to. How fun! But, since I don't bother to write anything down, I didn't remember the others. So she sent me a list, complete with dates and places where we saw them. Dawn is organized. I've added photos of the ones I took photos of more or less successfully.

Ferruginous Hawk - 4 Nov 2012 (field in Yamhill Cnty)


Prairie Falcon - 23 Jan 2014 (Baskett Slough, Polk Cnty)
Yellow-throated Warbler - 29 Jan 2014 (Charlotte's house, Marion Cnty)
Lewis's Woodpecker - 29 Jan 2014 (near Ankeny NWR, Marion Cnty)
Horned Lark - 28 Feb 2014 (Livermore Rd, Polk Cnty)

Short-eared Owl - 8 Mar 2014 (McLagan Rd, Linn Cnty)

Besides the above, Dawn says I helped her id, over the phone, her very first Rough-legged Hawk  26 Oct 2012 (Salmon River, Lincoln Cnty)

We still have some relatively easy birds to find for Dawn, but soon it's going to get tougher to find life birds for her, especially since she's fully capable of finding them without my help. But it gives us a good excuse to go birding together. Which is, I now realize, why many of those listers I've disparaged in the past keep lists. It's a good excuse to do what we love to do: watch birds. And do it with a friend who gets excited about seeing a new one.

Update, Sept. 2014: Dawn has been finding life birds on her own since I wrote the above. But we just went to Bandon together for the Oregon Birding Association annual meeting and she picked up two more, Pacific Golden Plover and Blackpoll Warbler. Since I drove, she says I get credit for helping her get them, although I never even saw her Blackpoll Warbler.

That trip made me decide to keep yet another list: all the birds I have photographed and identified on my own. I'm afraid that one will be a very short list.

Update, Oct. 2015: I drove Dawn to Yachats where we found a bird neither of us had ever seen before: Common Ground Dove. To tell the truth, I'd never even heard of it. It is the size of a sparrow.

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