One hundred

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:

4 thoughts on “One hundred

  1. I keep an online database of my daily bird observations. I started it in 1989, more or less stopped around 1996 and restarted it when I moved to MN in 2004. Since 2010, I have tried to keep a record of virtually every bird I see, it does take time if you put in every bird, but it is worth it if you are trying to know what is possible in your location.

    One hundred is good especially since your list isn’t complete (ie: it is missing birds you know you have seen). I hope that one can be a good birder without seeing 300. I just looked at my total and it is at 271. I try to be 100 % sure when I add a bird to my list. I wasn’t so picky when I started but over time most of my unsure sightings have been replaced with photos.

  2. I’ve done my list a little differently. When I moved to this home Park Rapids in 1991 I started notated the first sight date in my Peterson’s guide of birds seen in or from my yard. I just counted and I’m at 57. Just added 2 this winter.
    I try to be 99% sure.
    I also try to photgraph every bird that comes to my feeders

  3. Put the bluebird on your list! (I had a pair fly through my backyard once; isn’t that crazy?) But if you won’t, I know there used to be some in breeding boxes on the golf course at Northland Country Club. Maybe you could spy on those.

  4. 100 is not a bad number. We’re at 181. We started last year at 109. What bothers me is one of those birds. We ID’ed a bird as a Henslow Sparrow, got confirmation as a Henslow by two people, but I have some who say it’s a Savannah. It just puts a little bit of doubt in the back of my mind.

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