Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Confession Time: I'm a Lister.

heard at an LA (Lister's Anonymous) meeting:

me: "Hello, my name is KatDoc, and I'm a Lister."
group: "Hello, KatDoc!"

KD: "I always claimed I wasn't a Lister. I mean, I had a Life List, but who doesn't, right? I don't do Birdathons, Big Days, Big Years, or Big Sits. I don't count the numbers of birds I see (usually.) I don't travel to faraway places just for birds. (Well, New Jersey was kinda far.) I don't chase birds to add to my List (except the really rare ones, like Snowy Owl or Black Rail.) I don't go birding just to tick birds off a list- I go for the peace and quiet of nature, to watch bird behavior, and to see my old friends again, not just to meet new ones. How could I be a Lister?"
group: "We hear you, ListerSister."

KD: "It started with keeping a Yard List. It was a simple step, just keeping track of what birds came to my feeders. Nothing dangerous, just a little Yard List."
group, nodding heads in agreement: "Uh, huh."

KD: "Then came Trip Lists. Well, it seemed harmless enough, noting what birds I had seen that day. Trip Lists couldn't be so terrible, could they? And, once you write it, you need to keep that list around, maybe in a special file, so you have a permanent record, don't you?"
group groans, some sniffing and covertly wiping their eyes

KD: "Then, one day on a field trip, someone asked me if I had a Year List. It sounded tempting, to keep track of how many birds I saw in a calender year. I bit, and thus a new List was started. My OBBA atlas work encouraged me to keep a Nest List (confirmed breeding activity, including nests or nest-building behavior.) My Yard List is now annotated, with marks for those which breed in my yard, feeder birds, and those which are rare/unusual. While I was at it, I added an Ohio List - the birds on my Life List that I have seen in Ohio. I blame Jim McCormac for this one: I use his
book, Birds of Ohio, to keep this list."
group member, stands and shouts out: "Take responsibility for your own actions, Doc! Don't pass the buck!"

KD: "Sometimes it takes a friend to point out the obvious. Driving back from New Jersey, I commented that the Red-tailed Hawks weren't on my official Cape May Trip List. They were part of the Road List, since we had technically left the island and were headed home. Susan turned to me and said, 'You are SUCH a Lister.' Of course, I was in denial, but after her intervention, I had to admit she was right. It's true. I AM a Lister."
group, leaping up to hug KD: "It's OK. Recognition is the first step. We're here for you."

KD: "In conclusion, I'd like to share with you my Official Cape May Autumn Bird Weekend 2008 Trip List. Please note, this list includes only birds seen or heard while on Cape May Island. Special dispensation granted for birds seen at the Sea Watch at Avalon, since this was an event sanctioned by the CMBO/NJAS joint task force."

(Life Birds in bold; Heard Only birds followed by HO)

Canada Goose
Mute Swan (debate if this species is "countable")
American Wigeon
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal (very good looks)
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter

Black Scoter
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Northern Gannet
(first in US; seen in Scot)
Brown Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant (first in US; seen in Scot)
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret

Black-crowned Night-heron
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover

American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Forester's Tern
Black Skimmer (my #1 target bird of the trip)

Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher (HO)
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker (HO)
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
White-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow

Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Winter Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet (HO)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird (flocks of 'em!)
Hermit Thrush
American Robin

Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher (swept the mimics!)
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing (hotly pursued by a sharpie)
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Eastern Towhee (HO)
Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

{not counted: A "heard only" nuthatch, which I misidentified as a white-breasted that was actually a red-breasted; a "peep" sandpiper which I couldn't get field marks on; and a Sora, which I am 90% certain was living in the phragmites of the marsh behind our condo. I am fairly confident I have the right ID, based on its call notes, but it didn't do the classic descending whinny I am used to.}

85 species, 8 Life Birds

Totals are now
: 309 Life Birds,
199 Year Birds (30 Lifers) in 2008

group: Cheers and "high-fives" all around before disbanding to go birding, surreptitiously tucking Trip Lists and pens into pockets



KGMom said...

Very creative--(in fact my word verification is comaic--take out the A and you get comic).
A great post.
And I will try to be a humble PSU fan and say nothing about the game, except--great game. I felt sorry for Pryor at the end of the game, and wished the camera hadn't lingered on him. He's just a kid--cut him a break.
I totally disapprove of the rioting PSU fans. My nephew is at PSU working on his doctorate in math. I asked him his first impression when he started there--his response: all the drinking is out of hand!
Glad you had a good weekend.

John said...

Nice list, and congrats on the lifers. I consider the mute swan countable, since they have been around for so long.

holly-the-person said...

Glad you arrived home safely. I had a great time too, just wish it had been longer. Maybe next year!

Lynne said...

Kathi you are too funny! I wonder if my regular daily list making habits are just the slippery slope to bird listing? Is there room for me at the meeting? Will you be my sponsor if I fall?

NCmountainwoman said...

Great post! And what a list you have. I'm sure you get a lot of pleasure in looking over the lists from various places. The Cape May one is pretty spectacular. Absent a list, how on earth could anyone remember all of them?

Mary said...


Now, let's see. IF I MADE A LIST, I'd use a field guide and write them down on a legal pad. Easy. It would take ten minutes. Then I'd tuck it away somewhere, never to be seen by human eyes again.

Perhaps I need some coaching from you, Katdoc. In WV, I'll share your joy, Lister Sister :o)


Shellmo said...

You have a great list - I love making lists!!

KatDoc said...

KGMom: Thanks for not rubbing it in. As an OSU fan, I would have been totally obnoxious if the score had gone the other way. I felt our boys acquitted themselves with honor, even though the end result was less than hoped for. The rioting after football games always seems to tarnish the sport. They do it here, too, although not so much as in the past.

John: Thanks for the comment, and yes, I count Mute Swans too, but I know many purists don't.

Holly: Maine next August, for sure.

Lynne: Watch out! You are one step away from this addiction.

Carolyn: The beach was beautiful, and though I wouldn't want to live there permanently, I wish I would have had more time to just explore.

Mary: Lists can be check marks in your field field, handwritten notes or a computer program, but one thing you get at every bird event I have been to is a folded paper Trip List. Seeing all those empty boxes makes you strive to fill them up with tick marks. It's the first step of addiction. I would be honored to indoctrinate you into the fine art of listing.

Shellmo: All kinds of lists - lists of what to pack, what groceries to buy, what chores need done - Checking things off or drawing lines through them makes me feel like I've accomplished something.

Michele Wassell said...

A very interesting blog... :)

bruss1510 said...

I, too, am a closet lister. I keep my life list on the computer and in my field guide and I have a yard list, too. I keep trip lists for every trip I take (Cape May was 78 species with 5 lifers). Checking of the tiny boxes is sooooooo satisfying. Haven't started a year list, yet, but I will in 2009. I plan on throwing a party when I hit 200 on my life list (now at 186)!


Kathiesbirds said...

I didn't even know about listers or listing until I read "The Big Year" by Mark Obmascik. What a hoot! I did keep a life list, though not so well defined. Now I eBird and it keeps track of Life lists, month lists, state lists, location lists, and year lists for me. Have you ever tried it? You help the birds as well as have fun yourself! Welcome to the club! (I've never done a Big Sit or a Big Year either.) Have you ever been to Tucson? You could really add to your life list here if you haven't! Congrats on all those lifers!

KatDoc said...

Beth: Come out of the closet and show off your lists. Be sure to invite me to your 200th party - I'll be the one in the funny hat!

Kathie: Listing can get crazy - I know people who have County Lists, and one guy on the Ohio Birds listserv keeps a "Dead List:" Dead birds he sees while riding his bike! I haven't tried eBird yet, and really should. Until recently, I was using a dial-up service, and I avoided anything that seemed complicated or time-consuming. Now that I have DSL, it sounds like a Lister's paradise! I have never birded AZ and would love to go there some day. You have some awesome birds.


RuthieJ said...

I'm a lister too, Sister! Most of them the same as yours: Minnesota list, life list, trip list and backyard list. The amazing thing is that I haven't misplaced any of them yet and actually remember to add new birds when I see them!
P.S. That's an impressive Cape May list--for 3 days, right?

dguzman said...

WOW 309!? I'm not worthy! I only have 174. I need to bird more!