For those who are new to birding or simply haven’t been keen on listing the birds you’ve seen, January 1st means the start of a brand new birding list for the year. It’s when people go outside to spot their FOY (first of the year bird). It could be anything from a Black-capped Chickadee to Northern Cardinal (or if you live in New York City it might very well be the dreaded pigeon), but there’s always that excitement of thinking about all the birds you’ll see this year.
If you’ve never made a bird list, this is a great place to start. Sure you might have seen a lot of birds throughout your life, though it’s very possible you’ve misidentified more than a few. Some people make a lot of bird lists (yearly bird lists, state bird lists, house lists, etc.), but you should really begin with two.
The life list will be the cumulative record of every bird you’ve ever seen in your life. The birds have to be positively identified and official rules state they have to be wild and alive, but if you’re just doing it for personal fun, you don’t have to abide by all the rules. New technology has afforded us more advanced ways to keep track of all the birds we’ve seen, but since you will usually never have access to a laptop while spotting a bird, a good journal is a great supplementary item to mark down all the birds you’ve seen. Some field guides even come with a checklist.
Unlike the life list that documents the amount of birds you see throughout your lifetime, the year list resets on January 1st. So, why would anyone want to create a new bird list every year? There is a pleasure in marking down those favorite birds of yours over and over instead of ignoring them because you have already marked them down. It’s also a great way to track your birding habits over the years and allows you to set a goal or prediction of how many you’ll spot by the year’s end.
So, as you celebrate a brand new year with new adventures and hobbies, consider starting your own bird lists to document your birding adventures. By simply looking outside at your bird feeder, you’re bound to spot a few bird species to add to your fresh bird list.