Friday, May 1, 2015

Keeping a birding life list

I love birding but more specifically, I love the birds that I see in my backyard. I am not one to travel to locations to get a glimpse of a species...for some reason this does not interest me. However I love to see how many different species visit my yard, whether they are in the woods or on my feeders. I also love taking pictures of them to "officially" record them, and it also helps to use the photographs when identifying them too. I am not the best at either and do get frustrated in both endeavors, but I am doing the best I can. :)

Here is information on what a birding life list is:

(noun) A cumulative record of bird species that have been positively identified and seen by individual birders. Most birders prefer to record only birds they have observed in natural habitats, and many birders arrange birding tours and travel to local and regional festivals to see more species to add to their life lists. Differences within species, such as male and female birds, are not generally recorded.

Many field guides offer species checklists as an appendix that birders can use to record their life lists. Some birders also prefer to keep life list records in a birding journal or online blog. Additional lists may be kept for backyard birds, rare birds, state birds and other specialized categories.

A great way for birders to keep track of the species they've seen is with a life list which
 is a cumulative record of the bird species an individual birder successfully identifies, and keeping a list is the easiest way to track which birds you have seen. For most birders, however, it is just fun to keep a life list and add up how many bird species you have seen.

To properly add a bird to your life list, the bird must be…
  • Positively Identified: The individual keeping the life list must be able to identify the bird in question through field markings or sounds. It is acceptable to have another birder or observer point out the bird species, but to add it to a life list the birder in question must then see the markings for themselves to be confident in their identification.
  • Ethically Observed: All proper birding ethics must be followed for a bird to count on an official life list. If laws are broken to observe the bird or the bird is harmed in the process of identification, it would not be acceptable to add it to the life list. For example, trespassing on private property without being invited is a violation of birding ethics and any observed species would not count.
  • Alive: Birds must be alive to be counted on a life list. For the purposes of listing, eggs are not considered alive, and dead birds – such as prey of other animals – are also unacceptable sightings.
  • Wild: To add a bird to a life list, it must be observed in the wild and behaving as a wild bird would be expected. Domesticated birds, escaped pets or birds that are deliberately imported such as for a zoo, petting zoo or ornamental garden are not acceptable life list sightings.
  • Free: A bird should not be captive or restrained in any way to be considered part of a life list. Birds that are in wildlife rehabilitation, for example, cannot be counted, and should not be counted immediately after their release until they have resumed wild activities for feeding, roosting, migrating and so forth. Similarly, wild birds in zoos,aviaries and aquariums cannot be counted on a life list.
  • Established: Ideally, the most "pure" life list will only count birds seen directly in their native habitat that have established viable breeding populations for at least several generations. This is the most controversial factor to consider for building a life list, and in general, if the other conditions are met the bird's population will likely be established.Vagrant birds are an exception, but are generally considered suitable to add to a life list if they arrived outside their range without human assistance – a bird that was captured and unwillingly transported before release in a new area, for example, would not count, but a bird that migrated poorly because of storms could be added to a life list.

4 comments: said...

wish it was a picture here so i could pin it for the bird watchers of the world.. Lots of good info here.. :)

Sandy said...

Well thanks for all that info it was a really interesting read..

Unknown said...

You definately do your research. I like looking at birds and see which ones come to my yard also. But other than that I don't really notice them unless they are colorful. I do have a nest of cardinals in my yard but they are just too hidden to get a picture of.

Carole Z said...

Super interesting read, I too love watching the birds in the garden and L also love to spot birds of prey when out for walks, hugs Carole Z X