Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Most Wanted New Bird


We keep a property list of all the bird species seen or heard at our SE Ohio farm. The list is currently at 183 species: it was a Virginia rail spotted by Julie (on 10/19/08) while I was away traveling in Panama.

I don't mind missing a few: I missed the white-winged crossbill (#177 on 4/15/02) that visited the bird bath for 15 minutes. Julie got the fly-by Eurasian collared-dove (#173), too, in late March of 2000. That one is an unaccepted first state record for Ohio.

Our friend Shila was with us for # 181 saw-whet owl 11/09/04. I was solo for the dickcissel (#165 on 5/8/96). Phoebe spotted the tundra swans flying over our driveway as I was taking her to pre-school in 2002. And she was with me when the black-bellied plovers flew over us in the midst of a bad storm in March of 2006.

Here are the last 10 new birds added to the Indigo Hill farm list:

#174 golden eagle 3/29/00
#175 sedge wren 5/08/00
#176 black duck 12/22/00
#177 white-winged crossbill 4/15/02
#178 black-crowned night-heron 10/13/02
#179 tundra swan 12/05/02
#180 common raven 3/15/03
#181 saw-whet owl 11/09/04
#182 black-bellied plover 5/18/06
#183 Virginia rail 10/18/08

The species I REALLY want to add to the list is Wilson's snipe. Our meadow has a few nice soggy low spots. When I squish out through these spots each spring in my rubber boots, I always hope to hear that nasal call and to see a dark missile of a shorebird zig-zagging away from me.

I pine for a pond on our farm. I'd love a small lake. I'd not begrudge a bog or sneer at a swamp. Something—anything—to get us a few more shorebirds and waders. I can see them on the list now: sora, least bittern, spotted sandpiper, solitary sandpiper, coot, pied-billed grebe, marsh wren! Even without an added body of water, we should be able to swipe a snipe out of our wet meadow.

Maybe this spring will be magical enough to give us a new bird for the list. And if it does, I hope it's a snipe.

Wilson's snipe.

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At 3:25 PM, Blogger Patrick Belardo said...

So jealous! My condo yard list is a wopping 50 or so species. Not bad for only having one tree and a lawn I guess.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger Bill of the Birds said...

Yeah, Patrick. I remember when I lived in NYC and my apartment list was about 32. Not bad for a concrete jungle.

At 5:09 PM, Blogger Born Again Bird Watcher said...

Wishing you a snipe.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger rmharvey said...

Obviously you need to organize a snipe hunt. Go deep into the woods late at night and make a clucking noise. Your fellow hunters form a large circle and close in toward you, driving the snipe ahead of them. The frightened snipes will be attracted to your clucking noise. To be kind to the snipe I suggest avoiding capturing the bird in the traditional sack and just use a flashlight.

Good luck!

At 5:47 AM, Blogger Mary said...

02 was a very good year! You will eventually have your snipe in the meadow. Your new birds list is amazing, already.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

I love it when you sing these songs to our farm.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Seabrooke said...

You've got a great yard list! Especially being a (relatively) waterless site and not having the benefit of a pond bolstering your list with waterfowl and wader species.

Would it not be possible to scrape out one of the low wet spots and make it a tad deeper, enough to accommodate sufficient standing water to, hopefully, attract some of these wetland species? Before we moved, that was one of the favourite projects of our local conservation authority: building new wetlands in existing meadows, particularly wet meadows. I'm not sure how successful they were, although from the few projects I saw it appeared there was little in the way of follow-up management once the initial building was done, the result, I think, of being an overly large organization with too much land to manage to be able to dedicate sufficient attention to any one project.


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