Do you keep a “life list” of the birds you’ve seen?
I started mine in 2006 or 2007, checking off birds as I came across them in a National Geographic book designed for that purpose.
I didn’t start with any rules, but several have evolved:
1. Nothing seen before I started the list counts. So although I have seen at least one eastern bluebird in my lifetime, it’s not on my life list.
2. No regional restrictions. So if I see a magnificent frigatebird while traveling in Belize, as I did, it counts.
3. I’m not required to take a picture of the bird for it to count.
4. I am required to be pretty sure I’ve got it right. Not 100 percent sure, maybe, but sure beyond a reasonable doubt.
For a while, I switched to an online version. Maybe I’ll go back to that someday, but I found keeping a list online to be frustrating. I like using a book because you don’t have to have a password to open it.
So after seeing several birds that were “lifers” for me over the past few weeks, I decided to actually count the number I’ve listed in the book.
The number: 100.
This further cements my status as a wannabe. I’ve found real birders won’t even tell you what their number is unless it’s at least in the 300s.
Still, 100 is a nice round number. And in going through the book, I came across several species that I know I’ve seen but somehow never recorded.
They include white-crowned sparrow, bufflehead, common grackle … and American robin.
So barring catastrophic events, I should be able to add at least a few birds to my list yet this year.
To further help me keep track, I bought a small white board and put it up in my basement. On the left side, I have my current number; on the right side, I list the most recent “lifer” seen, as well as where and when. For now, that’s the great gray owl I saw on Sunday.
I’d love to hear about your life lists, and your techniques for keeping track of them.
Your bird stories and pictures welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org.