Now that one whole month of the Bird-A-Day Challenge has passed, things are really starting to get interesting. And by interesting, I mean tough. It's hard enough to find a wide diversity of birds in winter; it's even harder to find variety in a winter like this. Some days I've wondered if I would see any birds at all.
Good thing for feeders. The ones outside my kitchen window have drawn a steady parade of common characters that allowed me to skate through the stormy days thus far. But I'm going to be scrambling to find new species in the weeks ahead.
Yesterday I had a few common birds at my feeder that I hadn’t yet listed—white-breasted nuthatch, house sparrow, blue jay, and a few others. But I didn’t want to count them, yet. I knew one day soon I will need one of those reliable birds to last maybe one more day, at least.
So just before sunset, I drove up to Croton Point (NY) and scanned the water for something—anything—that would be a little more difficult to spot on an average day. I didn’t find much. Buffleheads, Canada geese, mute swans, mallards.
But then, a blur of wings. A brief glimpse streaking through the darkening sky. A small flock of red-winged blackbirds. They weren’t uncommon, but they weren’t always present either. I had my “bird” for Day 35.
How many more weeks can I last? Who knows. I have three more full weeks until March, when the earliest spring migrants might begin to arrive. What I do know is this Bird-A-Day Challenge is getting tough—and it's going to get a lot more challenging from here on out.
One of the best things about this whole experience is hearing from all of you. I hope you will stay with me for the rest of the challenge and keep posting your birds here on The Perch as well as on Audubon Magazine’s Facebook page.
Here's my B-A-D list so far:
Day 1, January 1 2011: Common Redpoll? on a feeder in Rochester, NY
Day 2: Red-tailed Hawk at the roadside while driving home from Rochester
Day 3: Downy Woodpecker?on my feeder
Day 4: Pigeon, a flock flying outside my NYC office window
5: Greater Scaup, Rye Playland, NY
6: Snow Goose, from the train station parking lot in Ossining, NY
7: Carolina Wren at my feeder
8: Red-bellied Woodpecker?on my feeder
9: Canvasback, Croton Point, NY
10: Junco at my feeder
11: Great Black-backed Gull, from a Metro North train running along the Hudson River
12: American Crow, Ossining train station
13: Bald Eagle, Ossining train station
14: Tundra Swan, Croton Point, NY
15: Purple Sandpiper, Rye Playland, NY
16: Red-throated Loon, Greenwich Point, CT
17: Common Merganzer, Croton Point, NY
18: White-throated Sparrow, Croton Point, NY
19: Common Goldeneye, from a commuter train traveling along the Hudson River
20: Double-crested Cormorant, Croton Point, NY
Day 21: Red-breasted Merganzer, Croton Point, NY
Day 22: Long-tailed Duck, Greenwich Point, CT
Day 23:Great Cormorant winging down the Hudson River, Georges Island, NY
Day 24: Tufted Titmouse on the feeder, with Arctic winds blowing
Day 25: American Robin in a snow-covered NYC park
Day 26: Peregrine Falcon in a snowstorm along the Hudson River, seen from a Metro North train
Day 27: Hairy Woodpecker on the feeder
Day 28: American Black Duck from the train station parking lot in Ossining, NY
Day 29: Ring-neck Duck
Ring-neck duck floating on an inlet of NY's mighty but ice-shrouded Hudson River.
Day 30: Turkey Vulture flying over a Hudson Valley roadway
Day 31: Winter Wren at the feeder
Day 32: Herring Gull along the Hudson River
Day 33: American Goldfinch at the feeder
Day 34: Northern Shoveler on the Hudson River, where the ice had finally broken up a little
Day 35: Red-winged Blackbird at Croton Point, NY