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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