I know you’re waiting to hear my bird count for 2013, so here you go. 120. That includes this Coot.

I realize that 120 isn’t a ton of birds for the experienced hand, but I’m just getting started. This new mania actually started at the end of 2012 when I got Jon Young’s What the Robin Knows as a Winter Solstice gift from the Resident Expert. After reading that, I was hooked. Then came the Great Backyard Bird Count event in February 2013, when I started keeping track of the birds in earnest using eBird, and it was off to the races. You should take part in this year’s GBBC. It’s your chance to contribute to Big (bird) Data.

Over the course of the year I had the opportunity to acquire some good binos, learn to recognize the common birds in our area, start to identify them by sound, and look for birds wherever we traveled. Early on it became apparent that you can bird pretty much anywhere, and we now have a couple of dependable hot spots along our work commute route. Birding also slowed me down out on the trail and when out for a run, but I’d probably be slowing down anyway so that worked out fine.

The new year offers some expansion potential for the life list, as most of my birding so far has been in the backyard. But that’s been a productive area – almost 25% of the birds on the list have made an appearance there at one time or another. I think that’s a good place to study birds anyway, since you have the luxury of time and will see the birds over the course of the year. And you can easily get a hot drop of coffee (morning birding) or glass of wine (evening birding) as needed. Bird what you know.

So how do we expand the list? Well, there are no owls on it at this time. Might think about adding a few owls. And just one gull so far? Buddy, the Pacific Ocean is right over there. Home to many and varied gull species. The Mellowcat is currently inhabiting a structure that sits under the Pacific Flyway, with the San Francisco Bay shoreline close at hand, and the ocean mere minutes away. Absolutely no excuse for not getting more birds on that list. Of course, if it means a trip to Belize or the Kalahari is required for birding purposes, I will not protest.

There you have it. 120 birds for 2013. Thanks, birds. The pleasure was mine.

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