25 February 2023

Bird update February 2023

Posted by Callan Bentley

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February has zipped by, but then again it’s a short month. I’ve continued birding intensively this month, so I’ll provide another update like I did last month. I’ve racked up 71 species this month, and pushed my 2023 total up to 77 (from January’s ending total of 66). The past few days have been very productive, as unseasonably warm temperatures have drawn north some early birds, such as tree swallows. Most importantly though, I’ve been putting in my time, making deliberate visits to local parks and lakes, and following “hot tips” of other birders’ reports via eBird.

The result is that I’ve managed to meet my goal of staying in the top 10 for my county, with an annual running total of 77. Yesterday’s hot streak of sightings pushed me back up to the #2 slot, which is good because the week after next I’ll be in southern California for a week, which is great for southern California birds, but means I’ll be out of the game with regard to my home county species. I guess you could say I’ve “banked” some species to buffer my inevitable slip downward through the ranks in early March.

It’s worth pointing out that even though spring migration hasn’t yet begun, I’m already at 57 for my yard list, which is on par with some years’ total annual lists for my Fort Valley house. (The most I ever got there was 67.) Again, the birding’s better around Charlottesville, and also (again) I’ve been more deliberate and methodical about it all since moving here.

I should point out that I’ve let my obsession with the “checklist streak” on eBird drop. For me, it’s just too exhausting to insist on posting at least one checklist every day. I’ve got other things in my life that are more urgent. But some days, I put in half a day of birding, and enter in 5 or more checklists (from different locations) over the course of a few hours. So I’m not going to bird every day this year.

One new tool I’ve discovered in eBird is the “target species” list; a personalized list of species that a user hasn’t yet seen for a given place and given time of year. This helps me focus/prioritize where I want to spend my time. I’ve subscribed to a daily email that summarizes county reports from the previous day specifically for the species I haven’t yet seen for the year. It’s pretty powerful, and I’m grateful for its aid.

The mix of species is about to change, with the advent of the early stages of migration – some species will leave our area and head north, and new ones will flush in from the south. Stay tuned!