A Note on Backyard Birds
Hey y’all! I decided to keep up the species list this month due to how much Karma and I worked on the van. This month had a lot of lazy birding, so most of the mentioned species are backyard birds. Sometimes, I found myself researching van things so much, I only saw who came to the window!
Many backyard species will both reside and travel through on their migrations. For example, you many have a resident American Robin or a resident Crow. However, maybe the White Crowned Sparrow you see frequently only stays for the winter. If you make a species list each month, you can see these transitions.
I think many people get caught up in thinking that you need to travel to see beautiful bird species. When, in reality, if you have a small yard, you can go birding every day. Moreover, if you’re in a city, you can always spend half an hour looking out the window to see how many birds fly past. Birding really can be for everyone and this month’s species list really shows that.
Furthermore, with apps like Seek, iNaturalist, eBird, and Merlin Bird ID you can learn a lot. For example, you can use eBird and iNaturalist to see birds in your area. When you spot one, you can use Seek if you can get a photo. However, if the backyard bird is too far away, you can use Merlin Bird ID.
Some people don’t like apps. If you’re old school like me, a good field guide is handy. My favorite for identifying backyard birds is National Geographic Birds of Western North America.
February Species List:
February 1, 2021: White Crowned Sparrow (2), Turkey Vulture (2), Northern Mockingbird.
February 2, 2021: European Starlings (50+), Canadian Geese (34), White Tailed Kite (2), Red Shouldered Hawk (2), Mourning Dove (6), Dark Eyed Juncos (8), Northern Mockingbird, Double Crested Cormorant (2), Common Goldeneye, White Crowned Sparrow (12), Brewer’s Blackbird (14), Bushtit (8), Anna’s Hummingbird (2), American Robin (2), Spotted Towhee.
February 3, 2021: Red Shouldered Hawk, Western Bluebird (2), Yellow-Rumped Warbler (2), European Starlings (50+).
February 4, 2021: Say’s Phoebe (2), Anna’s Hummingbird, Red Shouldered Hawk (3), Lark Sparrow, White Tailed Kite (2), Scrub Jay, Western Bluebird (2), White Crowned Sparrow.
February 5, 2021: Red Tailed Hawk (2), White Tailed Kite (2), Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Ruby Crowned Kinglet.
February 6, 2021: White Crowned Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird.
February 7, 2021: Northern Mockingbird, White Tailed Kite (2), Turkey Vulture (4), European Starling (20+)
February 8, 2021: Scrub Jay (2), White Tailed Kite, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove (6).
February 9, 2021: Western Meadowlark, Western Fence Lizard (6).
February 10, 2021: American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Desert Cottontail (6).
February 11, 2021: Anna’s Hummingbird, Scrub Jay (2), Turkey Vulture (2), Gulls (100+)
February 12, 2021: White Crowned Sparrow (6), Red Tailed Hawk.
February 13, 2021: Nuttall’s Woodpecker (2), European Starling (20+).
February 14, 2021: Red Shouldered Hawk (3), White Tailed Kite (2), Red Winged Blackbird (5+), European Starling (20+).
February 15, 2021: White Tailed Kite, American Robin (2), Scrub Jay (3).
February 16, 2021: Turkey Vulture (8), Desert Cottontail (4), House Finch (2), California Quail, (10+), Northern Mockingbird.
February 17, 2021: White Crowned Sparrow (3), Northern Mockingbird (2), Western Bluebird (2).
February 18, 2021: White Tailed Kite (2), Red Shouldered Hawk, Desert Cottontail (2).
February 19, 2021: California Quail (6), Desert Cottontail (2), Turkey Vulture (4), American Robin.
February 20, 2021: Red Tailed Hawk, House Finch, Golden Crowned Sparrow.
February 21, 2021: Red Winged Blackbird (2), Brewer’s Blackbird (6), European Starling (30+).
February 22, 2021: Red Shouldered Hawk (2), White Crowned Sparrow (2), Golden Crowned Sparrow.
February 23, 2021: House Finch (3), Western Bluebird (4), Mourning Dove.
February 24, 2021: Turkey Vulture (4), Desert Cottontail (4), Northern Mockingbird.
February 25, 2021: California Towhee, Crow (2), Turkey Vulture, Yellow-Rumped Warbler (2).
February 26, 2021: Scrub Jay (4), European Starling (40+), White Tailed Kite (2), American Robin, Red Shouldered Hawk.
February 27, 2021: White Tailed Kite, Anna’s Hummingbird, White Crowned Sparrow, Scrub Jay (2), Turkey Vulture (4).
February 28, 2021: Desert Cottontail (4), White Tailed Kite (2), Red Shouldered Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, Scrub Jay (2).
The Nature Journal Species List
Just like my January Species List, I created a four page spread to fit everything. First, throughout the month, I kept track of all the species I spotted. Sometimes, I jotted the backyard bird names down in my phone while my journal stayed inside. Second, I slowly added the species into the list. Lastly, I wrote some overall impressions that I had from the month. On the final page, I find it helpful to reflect on the month. While reflecting, I notice patterns both in the backyard birds as well as in my practice.
While not as aesthetically pleasing, species lists provide diversity for your nature journal. Often, I find that I leave species behind because I like to go in-depth. However, the species list allows you to acknowledge you’ve seen many species without going into detail.
Noticing Backyard Birds as a Habit
Keeping a species list really does help to make nature journaling a habit. The practice makes me more watchful. Moreover, it brings me outside on days where I get bogged down on the computer. It gave me a great reason to take a break. For example, I made sure to pause and take a lap around the block. There, I would try to find as many birds as possible.
On the other hand, when it rained I had a different practice. I would walk around and look out all the windows. Often, I would see smaller song birds taking cover in the many bushes outside the window. A White Crowned Sparrow had made a nest in a lemon bush and frequently moved around near it. At another window, and Anna’s Hummingbird shivered and moved to try and keep warm.
If your excuse not to nature journal is time, I counter that a species list is the perfect start. It requires very little extra time. Also, it can be combined with any other outdoor habit. For instance, you can combine it with walks, runs, your kid’s sports game, morning coffee, and many more.