Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Deschutes County Big Year

January 1. So it begins. A new year, a county Big Year.

I thought the first species of the year would be an indicator, a sign of things to come. Though I had hoped for a great horned owl or maybe a unique species, the first bird of the 2011 was a common raven. And a more apropos species couldn't have been found. (More on this in the future).

The day started off with a ski race at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center. My duties as a timer kept me focused on the finish area, but I still managed to observe gray jays and a Clark's nutcracker. The bold jays settled for scraps left at the food table and the nutcracker just made an appearance. See who else was in this winter wonderland.

Gray Jay
Back home, things were different and I spent some time observing the yard feeders. Big score was a white-throated sparrow and a downy woodpecker on the suet feeder. I didn't get more than a fleeting glimpse at a flying sapsucker, and then couldn't relocate it, so I'll have to stay vigilant for this species in the days ahead. I'm guessing red-breasted, but really didn't get a good enough look.

The usual suspects showed up at the feeders: house finch, pygmy nuthatch, mountain chickadee, dark-eyed junco, western scrub-jay, northern flicker, and American goldfinch - the goldfinches in splendid winter plumage. At one point an immature bald eagle flew overhead heading towards the national forest beyond our home.

My main goal of this County Big Year is to learn the birds of Deschutes County better. Work on identification of species that I'm weak on, spend time out birding, observing behavior, and to blog about these adventures. I'll be giving in to the "birding vortex" and see where it leads me. The species total is the last and lowest of these goals; really I'm using a County Big Year as a motivator to become a better birder.

As Yoda might say, "Off and birding, am I."

Species total to date: 14

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