Backyard Chirper

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How to Keep a Yard Bird List

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The beauty of backyard birding is that you can watch from a window while you drink your morning coffee or unwind in the backyard after a long day at work. You can see so many birds in the 15 minutes you spend outside or staring out the window.

But do you know how many different birds you really see?

By keeping a yard list, you can make a note of how many species you’ve seen from the confines of your backyard. Depending on where you live, you’d be surprised at just how many different species you could spot on your property.

So if you’re interested in starting your own yard bird list, here are some tips.

First pick your definition of a yard bird

Before making a yard list, it’s important to first decide what you want your yard to consist of. For example, if you see a bird flying overhead, should you count it? Here are two of the most common ways people define a yard bird.

A bird seen from the yard

Some, including me, say that if they can see a bird from your yard, it counts. It doesn’t matter if the bird is in a neighbor’s tree or flying off in the distance; as long as you can correctly identify the bird, it can go on your list.

A bird within the parameters of your property

Another way people make the list is only for birds that come into the confines of your yard. A bird on a common fence is not in your yard. This is admittedly more limiting, but some enjoy the challenge.

IMG_1291Examples of birds you might add

This section might seem like a no brainer, but here are some activities a bird might be doing in your yard that you want to note:

  • Flying overhead
  • At a bird feeder
  • Foraging
  • On a branch
  • In a bird bath

Although not everyone does it, some only count birds that spend a specific amount of time in the yard or are repeat visitors. That’s completely up to you. You can even make your own little game with a specific criteria for adding a bird to a yard list.

How to record your yard list

Keeping a record of your yard list is a great way to ID birds and make your own scientific conclusions. These are some ways people record them:

Use a piece of paper

The old fashioned way is to write down what you see on a standard piece of paper.

Keep track in eBird

If you’re more scientifically and technologically inclined, you can keep track of your yard birding list in eBird. This has the added benefit of aiding in citizen science projects and let your local birders know what you’ve seen as well.

Use an app

If you’re using an app like the National Geographic birding app or the iBird app, you can actually create your own list within the app. This makes it super convenient because you can add the bird in to the app after you look up what type of species it is if you didn’t already know.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.

2 Comments

  1. Design an Excel spreadsheet with bird activity list u observe; print and use. When form complete, enter data into computer form for nice typed copy \file report log.

  2. […] a Yard Bird List. If you do not have access to a yard, designate another place as your “patch.” It can be […]

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