A “life bird” is defined as seeing, hearing, identifying and/or photographing a bird one has never seen before.
My “life list” is pretty short. I’m what the late Judith Toups called a “backyard birder.” Brenda and I are enthusiastic about feeding and looking at the birds that come to our feeders at our home, but we don’t tromp around in the woods looking for new birds.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that I don’t have time for yet another hobby. For that matter, I don’t even have time for the hobbies I already like to do.
Recently, I added the Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum.
Now, you might be thinking, “How could you miss a bird that common?”
I don’t have a good answer for that question. I’m sure I’ve seen him before, but just never got around to grabbing the binoculars (“bins” Judith called them) and getting a closeup look. Recently a flock took over a tall tree outside one of our western windows. Though the tree is still bare, a vine growing to the top is loaded with fruit. I should say was loaded with fruit, as they soon stripped it clean.
We have several hedges of Elaeagnus in our yard, which is also bearing fruit now. It was amazing to watch the birds swallow the huge berries, which seemed too large to go down.
Day to day I’m perfectly content to watch our cardinals, house finches, red-bellied woodpeckers, Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice come and go. We thoroughly enjoy our overwintering American goldfinches and never lose our delight in their progressive increase in striking yellow color. Hawks, owls and the occasional pileated woodpecker visit. We’ve even had a wild turkey come and dine on sunflower seeds on the ground!
Adding a new species every once in a while, though, is exciting. When you’re amateurs like us, you don’t even have to go out of town to find one.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.