“Oh, that’s a great place to go birding—they were everywhere! We had such a long species list and I even got a lifer!”
“Really? We’ve been there and we didn’t see anything—just one House Finch and a Northern Flicker. It was so disappointing!”
Once again, it’s time for Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC). And once again, I was out with some friends (right), surveying our section of the Colorado Springs count area. Part of our route just involved driving slowly through residential neighborhoods. Other times we parked the car and hiked through various segments of Palmer Park, a large natural area of Ponderosas, yucca and grasses in the middle of town.
This being Colorado, the weather is just a tad unpredictable. A few years ago we were dealing with temperatures that reached all of 6 degrees and heavy snowfall that created near-whiteout conditions. We kept expecting to encounter a penguin or two. This year the weather was lovely—sunny and relatively warm (with a high of 50 degrees). After our recent cold spell, it seemed almost tropical… so we weren’t too surprised to see a pair of flamingos, all decked out for the holidays.
If you are a serious birder, you probably keep a life list. As any collector understands, adding birds to that list brings a sense of elation, accomplishment and satisfaction. However, if you’ve been birding the same place for very many years, you probably have already seen most of the birds in your area.
How can experienced birders recapture that beginner’s sense of excitement? Along with their cumulative lifetime list, many birders keep year lists. What birds can we find this year? It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve already seen them, it’s fun to start over.