1 January 2022

Yard list 2021

Posted by Callan Bentley

It hasn’t been a good year for much, but I did get a lot of birding in. Traditionally, on new year’s day, I post my “yard list” from the previous year: a list of all the bird species I’ve personally observed from my yard.

At my new house, I now have a full calendar year of observations. You’ll recall I moved to Albemarle from Shenandoah halfway through the previous year, meaning I only had a half-year’s worth of Albemarle observations to report. Notably absent was the species that passed through during spring migration. Here, that issue is rectified, and I am pleased to present a bumper crop and a new “personal best” number.

In chronological order of species’ first appearance, this year I saw:

  1. Blue jay
  2. American crow
  3. Pileated woodpecker
  4. Northern mockingbird
  5. White-throated sparrow
  6. Carolina wren
  7. Mourning dove
  8. Golden-crowned kinglet
  9. Dark-eyed junco
  10. Carolina chickadee
  11. Pine siskin
  12. Northern cardinal
  13. Yellow-bellied sapsucker
  14. Eastern bluebird
  15. Northern flicker
  16. White-breasted nuthatch
  17. Turkey vulture
  18. Belted kingfisher
  19. Raven
  20. Canada geese
  21. Tufted titmouse
  22. American goldfinch
  23. Red-shouldered hawk
  24. Great blue heron
  25. American robin
  26. Black vulture
  27. Downy woodpecker
  28. Song sparrow
  29. Eastern phoebe
  30. Cedar waxwing
  31. Hermit thrush
  32. Common grackle
  33. Eastern screech owl
  34. Red-tailed hawk
  35. Barred owl
  36. Pine warbler
  37. Fish crow
  38. Red-winged blackbird
  39. Yellow-rumped warbler
  40. Wood duck
  41. Brown thrasher
  42. Brown-headed cowbird
  43. Chipping sparrow
  44. Eastern towhee
  45. Red-breasted nuthatch
  46. Green heron
  47. Field sparrow
  48. Northern harrier
  49. Tree swallow
  50. Ruby-crowned kinglet
  51. Purple finch
  52. Ruby-throated hummingbird
  53. Merlin
  54. Osprey
  55. European starling
  56. Wild turkey
  57. Broad-winged hawk
  58. Barn swallow
  59. Gray catbird
  60. Great crested flycatcher
  61. Blue-headed vireo
  62. Blue-gray gnatcatcher
  63. Worm-eating warbler
  64. Baltimore oriole
  65. Chimney swift
  66. Scarlet tanager
  67. Chestnut-sided warbler
  68. Blackpoll warbler
  69. Louisiana waterthrush
  70. Orchard oriole
  71. Red-eyed vireo
  72. Northern parula
  73. Indigo bunting
  74. Black-throated green warbler
  75. Bald eagle
  76. Eastern wood-pewee
  77. Spotted sandpiper
  78. Common yellowthroat
  79. American redstart
  80. Rose-breasted grosbeak
  81. Blue grosbeak
  82. Wood thrush
  83. Yellow-billed cuckoo
  84. Eastern kingbird
  85. Black-billed cuckoo
  86. Common nighthawk
  87. Golden eagle

A few thoughts about this list:

  1. It’s larger by ~20 species than even my best year at the Fort Valley house.
  2. I benefit here with more diverse habitat: more open country for grassland-preferring species (though I’m shocked I didn’t get a meadowlark or a kestrel) and a lake that draws in some waterfowl like the sandpiper, ducks, and herons. I’m also at lower elevation and on the seaward side of the Blue Ridge, which both facilitate a milder climate.
  3. Hummingbirds are NUTS here; it’s so delightful to watch their sipping and sparring each evening in the summer.
  4. I would not have thought I would ever see a golden eagle here, but I got clued in by watching the daily reports of the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch during fall migration, where they document a healthy number of them. I only had one, and it flew over for only about 20 seconds, but I had my binoculars and got a solid look at it.
  5. The black-billed cuckoo (my first) was, sadly, a window-kill. This surprised me – we don’t get window-smacking birds nearly as much here as we did with the big plate glass windows at our Fort Valley house.
  6. I’ve been using the eBird app on my phone to keep regular lists; I find it motivates me to take walks: I’m not only getting exercise, I’m also birding and documenting what I see.
  7. I still have so much to learn about birding, and just took the step of joining a local birding club for the first time. Hopefully the skills I learn there will help me identify more species this coming year.