Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

July 20, 2012

Thinking about Birding

Filed under: For the Birds — Karma @ 12:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been giving birds a lot of thought recently. I’ve got a photo set on Flickr with 83 pictures of birds in it, and I’ve got a category here on the blog called “For the Birds”.  I recenty watched a movie called “The Big Year” with Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin about a competition to see the highest number of bird species in one year.  That movie got me thinking about my “life list” – meaning, I’m wondering just how many different species of birds I’ve seen.

I contacted Bob Zeller over at Texas Tweeties for some advice about getting my list going.  He kindly gave me some ideas.  I’ve also been over to Ebird.org to have a look at their bird checklists.  I spent some time on Flickr going through my bird photos – the collage above was created from my Flickr set.  And now, I’m sharing my thoughts with you.

My plan is to spend some time getting a list of what I’ve already seen started.  I’ve saved a list of Massachusetts birds and I thought I could start by going through that list and checking off what I already know for sure that I’ve seen.  With the help of my go-to bird identification website, Cornell’s All About Birds, I figure I can tackle identifying birds that I’ve seen, but wasn’t quite sure exactly what they were.  Then, eventually, I hope to be able to add to my list and to my photo collection – like when I saw that ruffled grouse this past weekend.

My hope is now that I’ve put my plans here in the blogosphere for you all to see, I will follow through.  I hope to be back soon with what I believe to be my “life list” number.  Have you ever given any thought to just how many species of birds you’ve seen?


  1. Love your collage!
    The Cornell Lab of O is local for me (about 5 miles away!) so I took a 6 week birding course there a few years ago. It was fun and entertaining, but what it comes down to is this: keep your “life list”, learn your way around the Audobon guide, and be willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning for the best viewing. Have fun!

    Comment by Barbara — July 20, 2012 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Barbara! I’m not really a morning person, so I don’t know how well I’ll do in that aspect of this pursuit!

      Comment by Karma — July 20, 2012 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

  2. I love your collage and I like your plan. So you have at least 83 birds to list, just counting the pictures. Barbara gave great advice. My life list is at 246. I would like to get to maybe 260 by the end of the year. Oh, thanks for the link to my blog. I appreciate it.

    Comment by Bob Zeller — July 20, 2012 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Bob and thank you for your help. From my photo set, the number would be a bit less than 83 since there are some repeated birds there, but I hope to have in that ballpark when sit down to figure it all out!

      Comment by Karma — July 20, 2012 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  3. Sounds great, and good luck!

    Comment by tedgriffith — July 20, 2012 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Ted! I know you are a flower guy, but I think it’d be cool to see some Colorado birds some time if you have the opportunity!

      Comment by Karma — July 21, 2012 @ 8:45 am | Reply

  4. I have really not thought about that, but could be you’re starting something here.

    Comment by Carol — July 20, 2012 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

    • Nice! I’d love to be starting something here!

      Comment by Karma — July 21, 2012 @ 8:46 am | Reply

  5. I would like to get into birding more. I’m poor at identifying species — but I am happy to report that a song sparrow is serenading me several times at day from the top of a tree in my yard.

    I’ll be interested in seeing what numbers you come up with.

    Comment by sybil — July 21, 2012 @ 8:23 pm | Reply

    • That website that I mentioned is very helpful in identification. If you have a ballpark idea of the type of bird it might be, you can find a lot of information to help identify the bird. Makes me wonder if Massachusetts and Nova Scotia would have very similar birds or very different ones.

      Comment by Karma — July 22, 2012 @ 8:40 am | Reply

  6. What a great idea and project to undertake! I keep my pocket guide to birds next to my computer, and I also have my parents to help i.d. mystery birds for me (I snap the pic then send it to them). Good luck and have fun!

    Also, that is one cool collage you made—will have to check out that site! ; )

    Comment by Kate — July 22, 2012 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

    • Hi there, Kate! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I should grab one of those pocket bird guides for those times when I’m not near a computer and don’t manage to get the shot.

      Comment by Karma — July 22, 2012 @ 2:36 pm | Reply

  7. Very cool collage. I kept track of the birds I saw in Maine because there were so many different varieties traveling through. Here I don’t see as many but I still love to find something different.

    Comment by Becky Sue — July 23, 2012 @ 11:20 am | Reply

    • Thanks Becky. I plan to pay even more attention than usual to the birds I see in Maine this year, hoping to add some new ones to the list.

      Comment by Karma — July 24, 2012 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

  8. Fantastic collage, Karma! I have given thoughts to starting a life list (I read the book “The Big Year” and saw the movie), but my attempts at identification have been so poor that I’m afraid it wouldn’t be an accurate list. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your project. 🙂

    Comment by Robin — July 23, 2012 @ 11:52 am | Reply

    • I bet you could do it Robin. I’ve been using that website I mentioned and it is very helpful. Even if you know something as simple as a “sparrow” you can go to the site and see pictures to help you figure out which type you saw. The list I’ve printed out and have been going through has been very helpful too. Searching birds that are likely to be seen in your area can help you identify what you’ve seen.

      Comment by Karma — July 24, 2012 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

  9. What a good idea, Karma. I had a woman come over to visit earlier this summer who is an expert in identifying birds by their sounds. She has quite an ear to be able to accurately identify them so well. Can’t wait to hear how your project goes.

    Comment by Kathy — July 23, 2012 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

    • I’d love to be able to identify by sound. There are a few easy ones, like cardinals, that I know by sound but I’d love to figure out more that way. I’m pretty close to finishing going through my Massachusetts list and figuring out my “number”.

      Comment by Karma — July 24, 2012 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  10. Oh, you will have so much FUN! Birds have such personalities and when you start to pay attention to them, you realize just what cool little creatures they are. I look forward to seeing what you discover!

    Comment by milkayphoto — July 24, 2012 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

    • So far I am discovering how surprised I am that there are so many species right here in Massachusetts that I have never seen! I think I might have to go get one of those pocket guides for the future.

      Comment by Karma — July 24, 2012 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  11. […] funny sometimes how blog posts come to be.  I realized yesterday that I hadn’t updated about my proposed birding project despite the fact that I have indeed been doing a bit of work on it.  But then, I never want to post […]

    Pingback by Oh What a Beautiful Morning « Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — August 8, 2012 @ 9:44 am | Reply

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