20 December 2011

Game of Fly Overs

It's no surprise that I keep all kinds of bird lists, I've been doing that ever since I was a young kid.  However, one particular list has been especially fun to work on the last several years, the yard list.

I recently moved to California from Ames, Iowa where I also kept a yard list.  My urban yard there provided me with more than 120 species.  However, once I realized where I was going to live in California, I realized my yard list was going to be dismal.  Not to fear, that's kind of the fun aspect of keeping a yard list.  Sure, it may not be anything great or have tons of species on it.  Instead, it's just another way to keep me actively looking for birds.

My "yard" in Elk Grove literally only consists of a patio deck up on the second floor.  Instead of facing a stream like it did in Iowa, my patio faces a four-lane boulevard.  The road is lined with some kind of ornamental cherry tree but other than those and a couple hedges and trees across the road, there really isn't much to work with.  However, there is sky... and plenty of it.

When I moved here I told myself I would be happy if I could get to 20 or 30 species.  Pretty high standards, eh?  Soon after, I actually managed 20 or 30 species but thought that 50 species would be completely out of reach.  Well, just the other day it finally happened; number 50 came in the form of a NUTTALL'S WOODPECKER that landed briefly in a tree top across the boulevard.

This raised a question I had; "How many of my yard birds have I actually seen PERCHED from my patio/yard?".  For example, a flyover gull or hawk wouldn't qualify but the Nuttall's Woodpecker that landed within view for 20 seconds would.  I started keeping track.

As it stands now, 66% of my yard birds are fly-over only, species that I have NOT seen perched.  I imagine in Iowa, that percentage was lower than 20%.

Anyway, since I hit the 50 mark, I just thought I'd throw a post together to show folks what truly is common around this neighborhood.

Goose, Canada
Swan, Tundra
Pintail, Northern
Goldeneye, Common
Cormorant, Double-crested
Egret, Snowy
Egret, Great
Ibis, White-faced
Vulture, Turkey
Kite, White-tailed
Harrier, Northern
Hawk, Sharp-shinned
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, Red-shouldered
Hawk, Swainson's
Hawk, Red-tailed
Kestrel, American
Falcon, Peregrine
Crane, Sandhill
Yellowlegs, Greater
Curlew, Long-billed
Sandpiper, Least/Western
Gull, California
Pigeon, Rock
Dove, Mourning
Swift, White-throated
Hummingbird, Anna's
Kingfisher, Belted
Woodpecker, Nuttall's
Flicker, Northern
Phoebe, Black
Scrub-Jay, Western
Crow, American
Raven, Common
Swallow, Tree
Swallow, Barn
Kinglet, Ruby-crowned
Robin, American
Mockingbird, Northern
Starling, European
Pipit, American
Waxwing, Cedar
Warbler, Yellow-rumped
Blackbird, Red-winged
Blackbird,  Yellow-headed
Blackbird, Brewer's
Grackle, Great-tailed
Oriole, Bullock's
Finch, House
Goldfinch, American