2013 and beyond

It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.

2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finally a decent one (CONI)

This evening, thanks in large part to a tip from Brickster, I was treated to my first decent add in quite a while: 2 Common Nighthawks at 8:20PM (117/135). Rick informed me that between 8 and 9 PM yesterday he had 80-90 pass over his house. So I went outside and within minutes had the 2 silent birds migrating north, silently. The past 2 weeks have honestly been rather frustrating here. I only added Redstart 2 days ago (!?!), Blackpoll Warbler today, and little else in the meantime. My Pewee showed up on territory only 3 days ago, and this morning saw the first Great Crested Flycatcher. For the year I still need Gray Catbird (inexplicable!), Wilson's, Bay-breasted, Canada, and of course any of the much-wanted shrub/thicket species (all of which are lifers for the yard still): Mourning, Yellowthroat, both waterthrushes, Connecticut, etc. I am hoping the nocturnal migrants will help me out in this latter category. Hopefully tonight...

is that all? I'll take some MOWA.

I've been birding other places lately and paying for it by missing things in the yard for sure. I can't resist the local shorebird scene though, with goodies like Stilt Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalaropes on the menu. Anyways, I got out into the yard this morning for about half an hour, and then later in the evening I got in a little more. Not a lot stirring with only singles of the few migrants I came across. But Mourning Warbler was a singing joy, I even got a brief look at his face before he hit the deck. Also, American Redstart, Wilson's Warbler, and Green Heron rounded out the gets for today with a total of 53 species.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hazy Catharus

In the midst of the misty haze this morning I saw many out of place things:
Mixed cathrus (5 SWTH, 1 VEER, and 1 GCTH) hopping around on the mowed grass of the golf course under the shade of the large cottonwoods.
A male Canada Warbler singing its heart out from a clump of honeysuckle not more than 10x20' surrounded by golf course and apartments.
Empids everywhere, 5+ LEFL, 2 ALFL, a WIFL, and a bonus GCFL (not an empid I know).
Warbs weren't numerous (CAWA, YWAR, COYE, AMRE, NOWA, and TEWA) but in extra innings I just heard a Wilson's Warbler outside that is singing from the top of a honey locust tree over the parking lot. Thank God for migration!

Sorry Rick, but MOWA's MINE!

Rick - sorry bud, but I beat you by at least few mintues on the Mourning Warbler (89) this a.m (my 9:45 vs your 10am). It was singing off and on and I caught only a brief view.
I also added Bay-breasted (87) and Black-throated Blue (88) this a.m.
That's 24 warblers for the year so far...all I need is Blackpoll and Canada and I'll match my all-time list.
Other Warblers today included TEWA, MAGW, GWWA (again!), BAWW, CSWA and AMRE.
I'll be gone warbling elsewhere this weekend (S. Manitou Island with my Dad) so you all will have the next 3 days to make up for lost ground! Good luck!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Morning, Wilson's & Chestnut-sided

Well, the dry spell everyone was lamenting in Sean's previous post finally ended for me this AM. It wasn't like the dam burst, but three new year yardbirds are welcome after three days of drought. A MOWA (129) was hopping along a log in the underbrush in the vicinity of where the CONW was Saturday. It was still there an hour later and even did a loud but abbreviated churry-churry. A half hour previous to this in the brushy east field was a WIWA (130) 15' away, at eye level and singing up a storm. It was enjoying the insects on the blossoms of the invasive Japanese honeysuckle and autumn olive we are intending to remove this year. Any suggestions for replacement native shrubs that are this attractive to insectivores? Ten minutes before work I glanced at the water feature and found a CSWA (131) investigating it. With five WITU at the feeders nearby it seemed a little intimidated and did not bathe.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


To concur with Sean, what a dry spell it has been! I left Thu night for Tawas only to learn that the gates had let loose. Arriving home Sunday night (2 state birds richer, I might add), I found that there were ZERO species of warblers left in my yard. Incredibly, I have had NOT A SINGLE warbler in the yard since before leaving for Tawas. For May 15-20 I find this totally shocking, and cannot remember a similar scenario. I also cannot find anything but a single Baltimore Oriole other than local breeding birds. Perhaps the favorable weather tonight will change this?

One other thought: for the year I am still missing: AMRE, GCFL (present all summer long), EAWP, GRCA, MAGW, CSWA, BLPW, SCTA, GHOW (last heard Dec 2009), RBNU, & HETH (!). Wow, I better be ready to play catch up come September...

(final note: looks like the radar is starting to pick up just now (10:06PM). maybe I'll give a listen...)

Yard lifer...not a migrant!?

I don't know about the rest of you, but there has hardly been any push over the last week of any new birds into the area. I did manage to scrounge a few new birds over the past week (SCTA last Thurs, REVI on Sat, and ALFL + EAWP on Tues). Today I looked at the radar and the wind direction and decided that my chances were slim to none on any new birds being present in the yard today. I did poke around the pond this afternoon after work and there was a cswa present (only the second here this spring), but no other migrants. Right as I was about to head back I had a Tufted Titmouse fly up into the cottonwood above me and call briefly. Now this seem like a pretty mundane bird for some of you, but this was not only my life yardbird but also my first for the County! What it is doing wandering in mid-May, good question. But I'll take it thank you very much!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

all things equal

I was one redstart away from having my year totals equal my all-time total. Equality Day occurred May 16 when 7 new birds appeared for the yard.

Last night and this morning the heat shim on the Bay did not settle down so wondering if my window of opportunity for distant waterbirds has now closed for the season.

16 May birditoes
Spotted Sandpiper - nocturnal release of calls
Great Crested Fly -- 5:57 am -- still dark; saw it fly in from the marsh and land in the first alder then give a bout of calls and fly off. It felt like a pure Bill Evans/Micheal O'Brien moment.
Red-headed Woodpecker -- heard calling in the neighborhood across the street ... ran it down .3 miles away -- finding it on the top of a telephone pole before heading off across town.
Blackburnian Warbler -- perching a singing briefly before heading down the lakeshore.
Am. Redstart - Ditto
Warbling Vireo and Black-throated Green -- singing in the neighbors yard.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hit the road Flys and Don't you come back NOMO

The fly's on the property were taking a hit today. It was major flycatcher movement action. I got two yard lifers! I had two separate calling, free beer-ing, Alder Flys. The other one was a Least Flycatcher also talkin' it up. 7 Fly Catchers total also including GCFL, WIFL, EAPH, EAWP, EAKI. Other year Yardies were CSWA, TEWA, and first thing was a NOMO as my alarm clock. Last but not least was a sharp little Lincoln's Sparrow. So niiiice. Only 57 sp. today.

You're all GRHEen with envy by now...

That's right dudes...read it and weep. A flyover Green Heron that I pulled out of NOWHERE yesterday afternoon coming home from a day out with the fam. That's #52 for the year.

No. 51 was a female HOSP foraging quietly in one of the ornamental pine saps near 'the slab'. That, my friends, was a tough bird to get.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

not really in my yard......

.........but seriously, what is the Upper Peninsula but my backyard!

The Word on Warblers this Weekend at the Woodlot

Here it goes...
5/15 - I got to 15 species of Warblers - 2 shy of tying my record from last year. Here they are:
Chestnut-sided (82)
Wilson's (83)
Golden-winged (84)!!!
Cape May
Common Yellowthroat

Two other additions for the yard are:
Eastern Wood-pewee (85)
Swainson's Thrush (86)

Today (5/16) was quite dead with no additions.

Canada Warblin

Had a female Canada Warbler today along with several Blackpoll Warblers and the usuals, but I only had a few minutes to bird today. A bird a day keeps the competition away I guess.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Devil Birds

Yikes, the radar looks a little scary tonight...literally. Everything in the midwest is lit U.P. -- happy travels birdies.

A few new yardies today including RBGR, RTHU, GREG,COYE, and this evening 2 Black Terns joining numerous COTEs and CATE (Common's arrived yesterday).

Looking forward to what tomorrow brings....


I opened the window this morn to listen to the bird song while making breakfast......Well, lets just say I didn't eat breakfast. A Connecticut Warbler was in full song on the east side of the house. It was never viewed even after an exhaustive search, although I was not 15 feet from it while it sang in a dense thicket of grape vine and raspberry. The other new birds today was an EAWP. Otherwise 12 warblers before work this morn.


I'm up wayyy to late. But, after just brushing my teeth a moment ago I decided to listen out the window for a sec. Complete silence for a moment and then a familiar distant "ti-ti-ti-ti, churp" My Chat is back and on an all night roll! I listened for a minute to his chatter. So awesome. The first time I noticed this guy was last year, so stoked that he's back. Best of luck to him and his missus. YBCH No: 118.

5/14 Yard Update

Ok, time for an update. I've been so busy working and birding I've not had time to post.

Black-and-white Warbler (75)
Great Crested Flycatcher (76)
Black-throated Green Warbler (77)
Orange-crowned Warbler (78)

Northern Parula (79)
Lincoln's Sparrow (80/112)
Blue-winged Warbler (81)

*Today I had 9 warbler species in the yard:
I hope to hit double digits on the warblers this weekend as I'm OFF from work and will be birding LOTS!

Friday, May 14, 2010

wish this was in my yard!

And for the record, you southerners, these actually ARE a big deal in Michigan still, unlike in Ohio where 6 at a time is apparently not unprecedented (!?!). This is a would-be 9th state record. And all I lost in the effort was a HUGE night over my house and a morning of fresh new migrants today. OK, no complaining.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WIFL ball, game time.

Hey hey sportsfans. Got me a few more this morning, Willow Flycatcher puttin on the rritz, a couple Maggies, the fantastic Blackpoll Warbler, and Yellow-throated Vireo singin' it up. Also around were Northern Waterthrush and about 40 some other birds. You know, the regulars. Its fun to go out for about an hour in the morning and get 50 birds for the day. Had about 80 sp. today at the park with a great look and listen to a Golden-winged Warbler as I drove into the park. Also new to me was a KEWA at the park! Love to hear the bearrw of CONIs as I leave the park too.

Swallow sweep

Finally nailed a CLSW for the yard today once the storm cleared for the first time in at least 4 days (!). Yard lifer, and one which completes the swallow sweep for me.

Now, off to Tawas for the Birding Festival this weekend, where the clearing weather surely will relegate me to missing the major wave which hits my house this weekend. Consider it a gift, Haas!

Monday, May 10, 2010

New Yardbirds @ The Wastelands

So, an extremely hectic schedule as of late has limited my time in The Wastelands but some early AM birding over the last couple of weeks has had amazing revelations about what can be had by diligently listening for noc flyovers. So here are some highlights over the last 1.5 weeks. [Forgive me as I don't have much time to post numbers, etc. to make this a decent report]:

#1 A distantly heard WTSP about 8 days ago

#2 A distantly heard EAPH about 4 days ago

#3 Last Monday, I experienced a multitude of noc flyovers at about 3AM. It was a perfect morning with light south winds. Definite tics were Solitary Sandpiper and VIRGINIA RAIL! Likely tics were Whip-poor-will, Upland Sandpiper, and American Redstart...however, these birds were heard briefly and not well so I won't be counting them...I leave near several major traffic hubs and it seems that my neighborhood is always busy

#4 Yesterday afternoon, I nailed the Wasteland's first ever HOUSE SPARROW-a female foraging in some young ornamental pines...she was flying back towards Wally's World with food in tow.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A RUFF week or so

I've been a bit delinquent on posting lately, sorry about that. It's partially due to the fact that I've been out enjoying migration every chance I get outside of work (like this Ruff that showed up only 25 minutes from where I live on the 4th - only my second ABA twitch of the species). I've tacked on quite a few nice birds this past week, the highlight definitely being a Black-bellied Plover that I picked up moving over right as a cold front hit at dawn... It would have gone down as plover sp. if my good old pluvialis whistle (that I picked up as a trick to get the flyby shorebirds to put down on "my" jetty in front of the seawatch) hadn't worked again and got the bird to fly closer and whistle a call of its own! Other pickups include the more expected migrants: Orange-crowned Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush, Veery, another flyover Orchard Oriole at dawn. Flocks of Eastern Kingbirds going over at first light, Least Flycatcher.
Can't wait until this storm system clears out as we're due for another huge push. And the leaderboard makes it look deceptively like this actually is a competition! Once I start field work in IN next week my ability to check the yard each morning will be even more diminished so Putnut should finally stop being my shadow.

5/6/10 new birds

Yes, 5/6 is the date of these birds, but posting late. Nothing doing today in the yard (rain and wind don't help).

Blackburnian Warbler (71)
Pine Warbler (72/111) - new yard lifer...seems a bit late for a singing male PIWA, but who's complaining?!
American Redstart (73)
White-crowned Sparrow (74)

Friday, May 7, 2010


Bobolink was in full song on the way to the car this morning out in the pastures beside my house. Very cool, I wonder if it will stick around. It was a Yard Lifer, but I only had time to say hello, because I was late to work. Gah!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sora Putty, not third place yet.

Had some stuff both this morning on the way to the car, and then this evening when I got home. This mornin' I had a BAWW and a SWTH. The EAKI's are back in the yard, BTNW, EAWP, and a PUMA slurped over.

A good one


Red-throated Loon

yep, seen skye high yesterday while tracking a group of bonies in hopes of a "little" salvage. A flock of 40 shorebirds against the morning sun added to the excitement but not to the total.
Adding to the tease a pair of Wilson's Phalaropes, Dunlin, Pectorial Sandpiper, are 200 meters away blocked from view by the cattails. Do phalaropes display? They have nested here in the past.
I see the northern boys are on the wrong side of the front but hopefully if we tread water for a few more days we get to partake in the feast. I've seen springs though were the fronts effectively keep us cut off from the action though down here in Delta County a billion or two midges can't go unnoticed.

Snow expected this weekend -- dohp.

Good birdin'

Big Rig, you working that yard hard or what? Watch your RPMs.

The Birds are Building Up!

It's truly getting to the thick of it now and the birds are really building up in numbers! I added 7 more to the year list today:

Least Flycatcher (64)
Yellow-throated Vireo (65)
Gray Catbird (66)
Magnolia Warbler (67)
Common Yellowthroat (68)
Cape May Warbler (69)
Warbling Vireo (70)

Sorry 'bout the rain up north, but it's really nice for a pile-up down here. I think I may be able to beat my 38 species count that I got today and increase my lead over "The Skye's the Limit" Haas.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nachtmusic pushes Putz into 3rd place

Just now (11:15PM) had a BBCU give its gurgle call quietly as it overflew the house (102)- the mic surely picked it up. Interestingly, the mic also picked one of these up 2 nights ago too after I had gone to bed. Also from last night, I found a recording of a few shorebirds flying over which included at least 1 LESA, and several unidentified sounds I assume refer to another shorebird sp. And just before coming in tonight I heard what sounded like a sandpiper of some sort give 3 single notes. Will have to work the recording to see what I can do with it.

Weird being this close to the top of the leaderboard!

Hold on to your seats

The dam has broken, my friends, as evidenced by these shots from this AM.

Here's my eBird checklist from this AM, but note that BLBW, BAWW, CHSW, and other species are not included b/c they were observed outside the time period of my stationary count.
2 Canada Goose DELETE
1 Green Heron DELETE
1 Mourning Dove DELETE
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker DELETE
1 Downy Woodpecker DELETE
2 Hairy Woodpecker DELETE
1 Northern Flicker DELETE
1 Eastern Phoebe DELETE
1 Yellow-throated Vireo DELETE
15 Blue Jay DELETE
2 Horned Lark DELETE
2 Tree Swallow DELETE
4 Bank Swallow DELETE
5 Black-capped Chickadee DELETE
3 Tufted Titmouse DELETE
2 White-breasted Nuthatch DELETE
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet DELETE
2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher DELETE
1 Eastern Bluebird DELETE
5 American Robin DELETE
2 Brown Thrasher DELETE
1 European Starling DELETE
3 Nashville Warbler DELETE
1 Yellow Warbler DELETE
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) DELETE
3 Black-throated Green Warbler DELETE
1 Palm Warbler DELETE
2 Eastern Towhee DELETE
5 Chipping Sparrow DELETE
1 White-crowned Sparrow DELETE
3 Northern Cardinal DELETE
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak DELETE
1 Indigo Bunting DELETE
3 Bobolink DELETE
20 Red-winged Blackbird DELETE
4 Common Grackle DELETE
X Brown-headed Cowbird DELETE
2 Baltimore Oriole DELETE
1 House Finch DELETE
4 American Goldfinch DELETE
2 House Sparrow DELETE

Trolls revenge

You folks below the bridge (Michigan speak for the lower peninsula ) should have a delightful morning....... enjoy.

Nocturnal Solitary Sandpiper! (thanks Caleb?!)

So I get out of work at 12:30 a.m. and have a message on my phone from Caleb saying "DUDE, you have to get out and try for Solitary Sandpiper tonight. I've had several tonight". And I'm thinking, what are the chances. So, I sit outside at 1am just to do it. Then, low and behold, just as I am shifting to get up I hear the distinct 2 noted cry of a Solitary Sandpiper (63/110)....whoa! That was pretty cool.
Thanks, Caleb...I guess. (I think this odd...that is, to be thanking Caleb for his generosity)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Columbus, Meet The Wastelands!!!

A single flyover BARS (#46) this evening brings me up with the Slagermeister. Considering the decent swallow numbers lately, I'm surprised it took me this long to get a barnie. Oh well...

More nocturnal fun

Saw the radar looking good again, and sat on the roof from ~10-11PM just now. Had 6-8 seeps (unknown, but several sounded like warblers, others sparrows), and 2 Solitary Sandpipers (94/132).

Walk to car, get yard lifer. NOWA and a PUGA (not yard, but state).

So I was walking to my car this morning and some loud-mouth was singing down by the creek. I had to stop and listen and sure enough, a Northern Waterthrush was singing repeatedly from near the creek. What the heck? Its a creek, I should be getting a yard lifer Louisiana Waterthrush, I tried so hard for that bird with no luck. Then I just walk to the car and get what should be the harder one for this spot. Silly birds. BAORs and YWARS wake me up in the morning. Maybe I'll get to actually bird the yard sometime soon. Work has been fun, getting paid to find birds and show birds to the public is sweet. But today I had to talk to 100 kindergarteners about mammals. The forest at work has been hopping with warblers. I wish my yard was more like that. Have had 70 species of birds for the park in the past two days. Oh and after work last night I drove up and enjoyed a state lifer near Cleveland, PUGA! Heres the pic I got of him. Another showed up near to this one. My yard is next? Please?

New Rule: talk on the phone when birding The Wastelands

Because when you do, good things happen. Like this afternoon when 8 American White Pelicans (#45/#52) drifted north...and while chatting with Fitzgerald of all people. This a year yard bird, a yard lifer, and a new Will County bird for me. Awesome!

Waterthrush with a southern accent

Yeah that's right, I heard it singing along the edge of the downfall logs by the wetland and didn't trust my ears, then walked around and visually confirmed the little sucker. Lots of MYWA here this morning but had to work for even YWAR and COYE. That's alright though, quality, not quantity!


Finally nailed a nocturnal SAVS by ear and microphone last night- not sure what took so long (90/131), then YWAR this morning. Had WAVI yesterday and am hoping for more migrants today...

Monday, May 3, 2010

A few more...

Yesterday I added Scarlet Tanager (59), Indigo Bunting (60) and Baltimore Oriole (61). Today I added Blue-headed Vireo(62). Only 38 behind 2nd place! Sheesh.
Should be some more to add tomorrow if I get myself out of bed to bird before going to work from 8am (tues) till 12:30 am (wed). Ugh!


Yo, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Orange-crowned Warbler provided # 99 & 100 for the year.

Note my all time yardlist is now 104 -- looking forward to when life and year converge.....

Nice 3-way tie for the silver.


Only was able to snag three yearbirds this morning, but the parula was life yardbird #110 and the pipit was yearbird #100! Now off to spend the rest of the day in more attractive habitat...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Yard Stuff

GCFL, SCTA, NOPA. Plus a lot of stuff like a truck load of YWAR, GRCA, and COYE. The BARS are back in the barn. Good times.

Sora story and the one that got away.....

Last night was spent around a campfire playing music around a campfire in Bark River. Over the course of the night a few sips were apparent overhead. A little before two I told my buddy about the yardbird competition and focused on the obsession that is Caleb. I explained the nocturnal mics and the rules for counting birds ending on Silly's story about the Black Oak Sora. I kid you not -- 30 seconds after I finished telling the tail I heard a SORA overhead give a 2-note flight call. I was blown away -- and when Chris said she heard it too I got suspicious. I made her hand over her iPhone to prove she didn't play the call. It was legit, and one of the spookiest things that has ever happened to me. The house is in an old neighborhood, with no wetlands nearby, 10-15 miles inland.

This morning the were 1000 plus Bonaparte's Gulls sitting on the offshore sandbar in perfect light. Probably should have stayed put but a run out to Portage Point produced 3 Little Gulls that would have been visible from the platform....oh well.

nice to have may.

Fitzy moving up

Wow, Sean, very impressed with the 17 yardbirds in a day! You're damn near taking the lead outright. Latitude and lack of lake effect continue to set me back compared to Chewy and Fitzy, but I do think that with time my habitat should give me an advantage over Sean.

Today I had several new ones: Mute Swan (tough for anybody else but Kaps and Rick, I'd bet), GREATER YELLOWLEGS (silent flyby right after the passing of a front system when a lot of birds took flight), White-crowned Sparrow, 2 Black-throated Greens, Ovenbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and 2 Green Herons which flew by in the morning.

Skye- I still find it crazy what a huge proportion of your yearbirds are also yard lifers! A sign of past (lack of) effort, perhaps. Here's hoping for another large flight tonight...

More T-storms = more birds

New for this morning were singing TEWA, RBGR, HOWR, calling SWTH, and a flyover MAWA. Then as I'm typing this a NAWA piped up from across the parking lot. The NAWA was life yardbird #109, taking me to a tie with Curtis.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dendroicstra strikes!

After a day on the Galien River with Caleb counting Yellow-throated Warblers (et.al.) I came home, cleaned up the kayak and took a quick stroll in the yard at about 5pm...and it PRODUCED! I only wonder what I would have gotten if I had birded it at 7am!

Palm Warbler - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 1
Nashville Warbler - 2
Ovenbird - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 1
Yellow Warbler - 1

On our separate trips down the Galien today our cumulative warbler tally was 16....migration is in FULL SWING and I'm LOVING IT!
Oh, and it's ironic what's missing from the list: Cerulean Warbler - no biggie, had it yesterday! ;)

the Haas Tract: Michigan's new Hawk IBA???

howdy all,

it is ON! there is a crazy good hawk flight over Marquette today. I have had easily 700+ BWHA's so far, and also have had NOGO, PEFA, AMKE, RLHA, BAEA, RTHA, (2 GOEA flying together!) and best of all, an adult light-morph SWAINSON'S HAWK!!!

This is only the second county record, the last being in 1977! Rough-winged Swallow, Brown Thrasher, House Wren, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows are all new for the yard as well.

back to the yard! more here later!


Oh M(a)y!

Walked out this morning, and was greeted by the call notes of a young male Orchard Oriole in the top of a Cottonwood. It quickly moved on, but I knew it was going to be good when that was my first bird! Passerines were not super thick, but the song diversity was music for my ears. Year pickups included: Great Egret, Spotted Sandpiper, and White-crowned Sparrow. Pretty much every other year addition also doubled as life yardbirds: Warbling Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Green Heron, Bobolink (singing male as it flew over), Eastern Kingbird (also a flyover), Baltimore Oriole, and a lone Lesser Yellowlegs among 33 solitary sands (!!) on the mudflats below the beaver dam. The only other warb aside from the COYE was a singing palm warbler outside my apartment. Can't wait for what the next few weeks have in store! Curtis, your life yardlist is about to fall!