Thursday, May 30, 2013

Damon vs. Paul, a Head to Head Birding Day Matchup, part 1: Memorial Day Sunday

How was the birding this past weekend? It wasn't quite as good as when migration was in full swing a few weeks ago, but all in all Damon and I both had pretty good birding days on Saturday (May 25). He reportedly saw an American Oystercatcher being eaten by a Swallow-Tailed Kite. I asked for photos but all I heard about was a "malfunctioning memory card". Anyways, we both saw a good sampling of birds in our respective regions (Damon- the greater Philadelphia region, but Saturday was mostly southern New Jersey; Me- eastern Toronto and Peterborough) on that day. I thought it might be interesting to compare our lists to see which birds were found in both places and what each of us saw that the other didn't.

Let's start with the Birds seen by both of us (23 species):
American Crow, American Goldfinch, Baltimore Oriole, Barn Swallow, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Bluejay, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Canada Goose, Common Grackle, Double-Crested Cormorant. Eastern Kingbird, House Wren, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Mute Swan, Northern Flicker, Red Tailed Hawk, Northern Rough Winged Swallow, Red-Winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, Turkey Vulture, European Starling, Tree Swallow.

In this list we have a nice sampling of commonly seen and widely distributed birds (e.g. crows, starlings, Canada Geese); birds you might see on an afternoon walk. Yes, the Bluejay made the list this time. We have some other fairly widespread and common birds (but harder to see and ID) like the Gnatcatcher, Baltimore  Oriole, House Wren, and Eastern Kingbird. Really nothing rare here. I will speculate that this list is not surprising because if a bird were rare or found only in a limited range, what would be the odds that both Damon and I would see it on the same day several hundreds of miles apart?

Here are the 33 bird species that only Damon saw. I've split it into three categories. The first set of birds (5 species) are Birds I Probably Should Have Seen and Just Didn't (no, seriously, I didn't see a single cardinal):
Downy Woodpecker, Herring Gull, House Finch, House Sparrow, Northern Cardinal.

Next are Birds that I Could Have Seen but are Not Especially Common in Ontario (10 species):
Black Scoter, Cedar Waxwing, Chimney Swift, Chipping Sparrow, Common Tern, Eastern Wood Peewee, Eastern Bluebird, Field Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Red-Eyed Vireo.

Finally are The Birds That are Rarely or Never Seen in Ontario (Damon racked up 19 of these bird species):
American Oystercatcher, Black Vulture, Blue Grosbeak, Boat Tailed Grackle, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Fish Crow, Great Crested Flycatcher, Great Egret, Laughing Gull, Northern Mockingbird, Orchard Oriole, Osprey, Purple Martin, Red-Bellied Woodpecker,Snowy Egret, Swallow-tailed Kite (rarely seen in southern New Jersey too), Tufted Titmouse.

And last is the list of Bird Species that I Saw but Damon Did Not (19 species):
American Robin, Belted Kingfisher, Blackpoll Warbler, Blue-Headed Vireo, Dunlin, Gadwall, Gray Catbird, Great-Blue Heron, Least Sandpiper, Red-Breasted Merganser, Ringed-Bill Gull, Rock Dove, Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Swamp Sparrow, Warbling Vireo, Willow Flycatcher, Wilson's Warbler, Yellow Warbler

A few things about my unique bird list. You will also see all kinds of cool birds on my list- warblers and shorebirds- that would presumably be harder for Damon to see in late May given the advanced stage of the migration. You might also notice that Damon didn't see 1 single American Robin all day? What kind of birder is he? And no rock dove (a.k.a pigeon), ring-billed gulls or great-blue heron? He should probably consider cleaning his binoculars or having someone else record his list in the future!

So what can we learn from this exercise?
1) There are more birds for Damon to see in his area.
2) Damon either doesn't notice the most obvious of birds or needs list-keeping lessons.

That and Damon saw (or more correctly, recorded seeing) a total of 56 species of birds, which is a new big day record for our friendly competition this year. Nice job, Damon. Guess I will have to step it up a notch now.

No comments:

Post a Comment