Bird-A-Day Challenge, Week 12: Fun Bird Trivia

              Eastern Phoebe. Credit: Dan Pancama/CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s always helpful when a bird that you’re trying to identify shouts its name from the forest. Fee-bee, the Eastern phoebe said on Day 78, followed by its trademark tail wag. But you can’t count on other birds to be so obliging. Many of the ones I’ve seen or heard during this year’s Bird-A-Day challenge proved to be a test for which I needed some tutors—fellow birders who have been honing their skills for a lot longer than me.

If you haven’t heard about it before, the Bird-A-Day Challenge is a game played every year by birders from around the country. The objective of the contest is to count how many days in a row you can find a “new” bird. (New equals recorded for the first time on your list.) The rules are: Never repeat a species, nor go a day without seeing a different one. If you do, you are out of the challenge.

When I started counting birds back on January 1, my goal wasn’t to outlast anyone. It was to simply beat my personal record from last year—80 days. I’m happy to report I crawled past the 80-day marker this week, and I’ll likely go a few days longer. All along the way I’ve enjoyed being driven outside to keep seeing new birds. This has also been a great way to learn a lot of interesting trivia.
Here are a few fun facts from this week’s birds:
One captive Carolina wren (day 76)—often identified by its call “Teakettle-teskettle”—sang nearly 3,000 times in a single day!

“Bald pate,” is the former name of the American wigeon (day 77) because the white stripe on the top of its noggin was said to resemble a bald man’s head.

The species of warbler known to eat the largest quantities of seeds? The pine warbler (day 78).

Eastern Phoebe (day 79): The first bird banded in North America—by none other than John James Audubon. Back in 1804 the artist-naturalist affixed a silver thread to an Eastern phoebe’s leg to see whether the bird would return the following year.

Thirty-one years and four months: The age of the oldest known mourning dove (day 80).

The type of birds that form flocks resembling living, whirling tornados? Tree swallows (day 81).

The green-winged teal (day 82) comes in two forms—Eurasion and American—and was once considered two separate species.

Check back next week to see what other interesting trivia Bird-A-Day produces (for the updated roster, see below). If you want to give this a try, you don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day 2013. Why not start on April first? It will be a good time to begin anew because the spring birds will be in abundance. See how many days you can last. Share what you’re seeing here on The Perch, on Audubon Magazine’s Facebook page, and on Twitter using #birdaday.

January 2012
New Year’s Day: Red-Throated Loon??
2nd: Greater Scaup??
3rd:Common Merganser? ?
4th: Black Duck??
5th: Red-shouldered Hawk?
6th: Canvasback?
7th: Northern Gannet?
8th:Lesser Scaup?
9th: Red-bellied Woodpecker?
10th: Brant?
11th: Fish Crow?
12th: Hooded Merganser?
13th: Northern Harrier?
14th: Pied-billed Grebe?
15th: Bonaparte’s Gull?
16th: Horned Grebe?
17th: Common Goldeneye?
18th: Dark-eyed Junco?
19th: Common Raven?
20th: Hairy Woodpecker
21st: Horned Lark
22nd: Snow Goose
23rd: Northern Mockingbird
24th: Black Vulture
25th: Great Cormorant
26th: House Finch
27th: White-Breasted Nuthatch
28th: Northern Shrike
29th: White-winged Scoter
30th: Turkey
31st: Bald Eagle

1st, Day 32: Golden-crowned Kinglet
2nd, Day 33: Northern Pintail
3rd, Day 34: White-throated Sparrow
4th, Day 35: Carolina Chickadee
5th, Day 36: Magnificent Frigatebird
6th, Day 37: Short-tailed Hawk
7th, Day 38: Reddish Egret
8th, Day 39: Roseate Spoonbill
9th, Day 40: White Pelican
10th, Day 41: White-winged Dove
11th, Day 42: Anhinga
12th, Day 43: Tundra Swan
13th, Day 44: Brown Creeper
14th, Day 45: Sharp-shinned Hawk
15th, Day 46: Gadwall
16th, Day 47: Bufflehead
17th, Day 48: Cardinal
18th, Day 49: Black Scoter
19th, Day 50: Fox Sparrow
20th, Day 51: Long-tailed Duck
21st, Day 52: Herring Gull
22nd, Day 53: Pileated Woodpecker
23rd, Day 54: Rufous Hummingbird
24th, Day 55: Blue Jay
25th, Day 56: Snowy Owl
26th, Day 57: American Tree Sparrow
27th, Day 58: Great Blue Heron
28th, Day 59: Common Grackle
29th, Day 60: Great Black-backed Gull

1st, Day 61: Ring-billed Gull
2nd, Day 62: Tufted Titmouse
3rd, Day 63: Common Loon
4th, Day 64: Mute Swan
5th, Day 65: Song Sparrow
6th, Day 66: Cooper’s Hawk
7th, Day 67: American Robin
8th, Day 68: Northern Flicker
9th, Day 69: American Woodcock
10th, Day 70: Killdeer
11th, Day 71: American Goldfinch
12th, Day 72: Red-winged Blackbird
13th, Day 73: Double-crested Cormorant
14th, Day 74: Downy Woodpecker
15th, Day 75: Red-Tailed Hawk
16th, Day 76: Carolina Wren
17th, Day 77: American Wigeon
18th, Day 78: Pine Warbler
19th, Day 79: Eastern Phoebe
20th, Day 80: Pine Warbler
21st, Day 81: Tree Swallow
22nd, Day 82: Green-winged Teal
23rd, Day 83:

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