Do you track your backyard bird visitors? 

It’s a lot of fun, especially if you live somewhere with a variety of visitors. But even urban areas can have an interesting assortment of birds. Having feeders and water available will help attract visitors too. 

About a year ago I moved about an hour further east and about 4000 feet higher in elevation. The previous town I lived in had a limited variety within the city limits – I think I may have seen 8 species in the 15+ years I lived there. While the variety increased outside of town, at my homes it was limited. By far and away the biggest volume were House Sparrows. (Passer domesticus)  That saddens me as they are an introduced species to North America that have spread to nearly every corner of the continent. But I also had several species of Hummingbirds, House Finches  (Haemorhous mexicanus) – another introduced species – and once, a Red-Tailed Hawk.  (Buteo jamaicensis)

In my new home there are far more species of birds. I live in a wooded area with oaks, pines, cedar and a few shrubs that offer up a variety of seeds and insects. I also have two bird baths, which attracts birds of all sizes – even the large Northern Flicker. In the summer I also have a hummingbird feeder, but I stop feeding them as the weather cools off in Autumn. In the last year I have had 26 different species of birds visit me!  By “backyard” I mean any bird I have seen while at my house. Most have been in my yard, but a few of the raptors have only sailed overhead. 

My Backyard Bird List:

(in no particular order)

  1. American Robin Turdus migratorius
  2. Bushtit  Psaltriparus minimus
  3. White Headed Woodpecker  Dryobates albolarvatus
  4. Downy Woodpecker Dryobates pubescens
  5. Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
  6. Northern (Red Shafted) Flicker  Colaptes auratus
  7. Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  8. Golden Eagle  Aquila chrysaetos
  9. Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
  10. Raven Corvus corax
  11. Black Headed Grosbeak  Pheucticus melanocephalus
  12. Dark Eyed Junco  Junco hyemalis
  13. Stellar’s Jay Cyanocitta stelleri
  14. Hutton’s Vireo  Vireo huttoni
  15. Anna’s Hummingbird  Calypte anna 
  16. Red Breasted Nuthatch  Sitta canadensis
  17. Ruby Crowned Kinglet  Regulus calendula
  18. Turkey Vulture  Cathartes aura
  19. Red Tailed Hawk  Buteo jamaicensis
  20. California Quail  Callipepla californica
  21. Sharp Shinned Hawk  Accipiter striatus
  22. Mountain Chickadee  Poecile gambeli
  23. Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
  24. Black Phoebe  Sayornis nigricans
  25. Western Screech Owl  Megascops kennicottii
  26. Spotted Towhee  Pipilo maculatus

There’s one bird I’d really love to see – and that is the Western Tanager. They’re so bright, colorful and distinctive.  I feel like I should include bats with an asterisk. They aren’t birds of course. I’m also not positive which ones I have seen here, I’ve only seen them at late dusk and they do zoom around.  It’s likely the Big Brown Bat as they are the most common here.

A fun way to get started on your lifetime backyard bird list is the Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s a lot of fun, and you’ll be helping ornithologists track bird’s ranges and populations. If you are new to birding, they provide many helpful tools to help you identify birds, including a list of the common birds in your area. In addition to the online guides, I also like books. Often they give more detailed range maps and ID marks. My favorite is The Sibley Guide to Birds (affiliate link). If you’d like to track your complete life list of birds, Sibley also has a Life List Diary (affiliate link) where you check off birds and add notes about where you saw it.