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Monday, October 24, 2011

How I Get My 20

In order to make sure I get my 20 Bird Minimum Daily Requirement, I start each day by marking out 30 hash marks, in three columns of 10, on a small piece of paper.  That way, every time I see or hear a new bird for the day I can record it on my tally sheet using the standard 4 letter banding codes.  Since my tally is grouped in columns of 10, I can quickly see how many species I have for the day.

Here's my completed tally sheet for today:

I started the day kind of slow with a few Blue Jays, American Crows and White-throated Sparrows calling behind my house.  I was busy so I didn't go out and find anything else, but I did hear Song Sparrow and Black-capped Chickadees as I got into my car to run some errands.

Driving around town I got Turkey Vultures, Morning Doves, and European Starlings.  So far nothing to write home about.  So I decided to check out Assicong Marsh, a nearby spot I hadn't visited yet.

At the 24 acre marsh north of Flemington, I got Downy Woodpecker, Canada Goose, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carolina Wren, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Red-winged Blackbird.  I was hoping for some new ducks for my county list, and was happy to find Wood Ducks, American Black Ducks, and a pair of Gadwall with the Mallards.  By this point I only needed a couple more to reach my 20 Bird MDR, and I heard a Swamp Sparrow and saw a pair of Northern Cardinals as I walked back to my car.  Then I remembered I had also seen a Red-tailed Hawk back in town, so I really had a comfortable 21 species.

On the way home I stopped at the county Arboretum for a few minutes and picked up Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, Tufted Titmice, Black Vulture, and my FOS Hermit Thrush.

After getting home, I saw that I was just 4 species away from reaching 30 for the day, so I spent 10 minutes on my patio, netting Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Gray Catbird, and White-breasted Nuthatch.

With my tally sheet I was able to see where I was at with my tally at any point, and I could also record numbers and locations of birds seen.  Ideally, I will spend a few moments in the evening to submit my sightings to eBird--giving my sightings more value as they contribute to our greater knowledge of bird distribution.

So--what did I gain from playing the 20 Bird MDR game today?  Playing gave me a little more incentive to check out a new spot for me and led me to stop for another few minutes at the arboretum, where I noted two juvenile Cedar Waxwings among the 40 or so birds there that were about 80% young birds without red waxy wing feather tips.  When I enter those age rations into my eBird checklist, it will help track timing of molt and population dynamics of these wandering birds.  By playing the game I saw way more birds than I would have if I hadn't been playing or paying attention.  So no huge discoveries, but with 32 birds for the day I had fun, it flexed the birding muscles, and made for a nice addition to my day!


Rick Wright said...

Assiscong is a neat place; great for Wood Ducks, and Eastern Screech-Owls used to roost in the boxes in the winter. I have a dim memory of someone reporting American Bittern there, too.

Dawn Fine said...

Good Idea..i did mine by doing voice messages into my ipod each time I saw a bird.

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