Monday, January 12, 2009

Listing nightmares

Eastern Towhee, Little Buffalo State Park, 2008

I was lying on the couch the other night, perusing my new Peterson's Western field guide, when I realized that--while I am going to get the chance to see a bunch of new birds once we move to California--there will also be a bunch of birds I will NOT get to see out west. NO FAIR!

Those of you who know anything about me can probably predict my response to this little realization:
1. Panic.
2. Make a list.
3. Repeat 1 and 2 as necessary.

So--I present my first list, Eastern birds I haven't seen so I better hurry up and see them either here or in Texas when I visit in February:
Common Redpoll
Snow Bunting
any kind of Longspur
Scarlet Tanager
Summer Tanager
any Waterthrush
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Northern Bobwhite
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Least Bittern
Painted Bunting
Purple Gallinule

I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones I noticed as I flipped through the range maps in the back of my Peterson's. I sure do have my work cut out for me this spring!

Eastern Bluebird, Little Buffalo State Park, 2008

After repeating Step 1 a few more times, I made another list--Birds I have seen and/or take for granted over here but which I probably won't see in California:
American Tree Sparrow
Field Sparrow (but I love that call!)
Bluejay (no freaking bluejays!?)
Northern Cardinal (seriously--what is wrong with the West Coast?)
Ovenbird (I may pass out if I don't hear the "teacher teacher" call of an ovenbird in the spring)
Blackburnian Warbler (my favorite! But only rarely do these guys stray into Cali--but Varied Thrushes have that same fiery orange, so...)
Palm Warbler (the tail bobber!)
Black and White Warbler (I love them!)
Red-eyed Vireo (get outta town--literally. I'll have to go farther north than Rohnert Park to hear these guys)
Cedar Waxwing (again, a rarity)
WOOD THRUSH (reconsidering move altogether now, because you know this is my favorite birdsong)
Gray Catbird (wow)
Brown Thrasher
Eastern Bluebird (but the Mountain Bluebird might make up for it)
Carolina Wren (I'm sad)
Black-capped Chickadee (I'm more sad)
Eastern Wood Pewee (I love their call!)
Eastern Towhee
Slate-colored Junco (on my list of Cutest Birds, I'll really miss these)

Boy. You'd think I was moving 2,699.47 miles or something. Sometime after the New River festival in April, I'll really get into my Western guide and start highlighting some birds I'll make a point to seek out in California. Until then, I'll just try to soak up as much Wood Thrush and Catbird as I can.

P.S.--I have realized that my friends are already getting sick of my "When I move to California, I'm gonna..." pronouncements, so I started a new little bloggy so I'd have a place to pour all my most listy, anal-retentive, living in the future kinds of thoughts about the wonders of the Golden State. If you live or have lived in the San Francisco area, please visit and leave comments on more cool Cali stuff so I'll be sure to drive myself insane with impatience for the move!


John said...

Depending on where you go in Texas, you should be able to clean up on the herons and gallinule there. As backup, how about a trip to the Jersey shore in the spring? Forsythe, Cape May, and Bombay Hook should all have some of each of them (except the gallinule). For Bobolink, go out into grassy fields in the spring and listen for a really wacky bird song.

A lot of those have western equivalents that should fill the gap, like eastern towhee = spotted towhee, Carolina wren = Bewick's Wren, blue jay = Steller's jay, slate-colored junco = various other junco subspecies, eastern wood-pewee = western wood-pewee, etc. The one group that is really lacking on the west coast is the warbler family. The western wood warbler diversity seems pretty meager compared to the east.

KGMom said...

Delia--can't help you with western birds, but you will be missed here in PA.
That's the great thing about blogging--I can still stop by to visit.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Oh come on now ... there will be ones to make up for it!

Should see juncos, chickadees, and the magnificent Stellar Jay ...

Susan Gets Native said...

I can't think beyond 40 hours. And seventeen minutes.

dguzman said...

John--I had noticed the warbler deficiency right off! I guess it's the lack of forests (other than redwoods, that is)?

KGMom--yup; the bloggy will stay right here, so come on by anytime for a cuppa and some birds!

Rabbits' Guy--the Stellar's Jay does look neat, as does the Varied Thrush.

Susan--that's what being a mom will do to ya.

Anonymous said...

I think I mentioned before that I know several very good (World Class) birders in Northern CA. Point Reyes is a great place to pick up vagrants in the winter. When you get set up in Sonoma County contact me at: and I'll send you the information. In West Marin County the is during the "prime birding" season a pick up group that goes out at least once a month on Mondays and if you join PRBO(Point Reyes Bird Observatory) they have regular birding trips too.
Good birding,

Earl Cootie said...

And don't forget the Bullock's Oriole if you're jonesing for fiery orange!

Anonymous said...



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