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2009 in Birds

January 1, 2010

Look, I realize it’s something of a cop-out to post another list at the beginning of the new year. But, gimme a break, not only is it a holiday but it’s my birthday, a day of reflection.  So I ask you, is there a better time to un-pack my birding in 2009?  Especially as I turn 30 and realize that I’ll never be able memorize bird song like I could in the past.  What a waste.  But one of the best things, from a purely selfish perspective, about hosting a birding blog is that all of my best experiences are already written up and easily accessible for my quickly failing mind.

I ended 2009 with 235 species of birds seen, a significant reduction from my 2008, but there’s a small, cute reason for that, as my time for birding was cut significantly in mid-May.  So it goes.  I still managed to turn up 10 new birds for my Life List this year, though 9 of them weren’t in my home state of North Carolina but in the far north.  More on that later.  I had hoped that I would crack the 500 mark by the time I turned 30, but as my birthday looms, I find myself still a handful of birds short (and I even had to remove one this year). My state list didn’t fare nearly as well, with only 4 new species added, but 2 of those were fantastic state rarities and one a new bird for the state.

But beyond number obsession and list maintenance, I did have some great birding experiences this past year.  Here are the top 10.

10. Yard Hawks –  I watched a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks in my back yard successfully fledge two youngsters.  I would have loved to see the moment they left the nest, but I missed it because of, um, my own child.  Maybe next year.

9. College Friends are birders too! – I got to meet up with my old friend Kim from college.  Back then I was on my birding hiatus, and she wasn’t yet a birder, but several years later our paths crossed again, and then crossed the paths of a Yellow-breasted Chat, a lifer for her.

8. 19 Warbler Day. Yay for spring, and yay for lots of fantastic warblers on one day.

7. Birding with Bloggers.  Starting what would be a trend for the month of January, I took Mike Bergin of 10,000 Birds out to find a Red-cockaded Woodpecker.  We found it, but not before blowing off the conference he came to town to do.

6. Christmas Hummingbird – My last new bird for the year, and a treat to go home to find over the holidays.

5. Western Grebes in Greensboro.  When great birds show up close to home, you have to find time to see them.  These stuck around just long enough for me to make the run to Greensboro.

4. State First! A Tufted Duck in early February was not only the first record of the species for North Carolina, but the last lifer I’d get for the entire year.

3. Bald Head Birding – One of the most exciting things I did this year was help get a local Young Naturalist’s Club off the ground.  A trip to Bald Head Island in southern NC was a great opportunity to share cool birds and other wildlife with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of young people.  It was very cool.

2. Superbowl! – It’s kind of a shame to start the year with something that can barely be topped for more than 12 months, but the Super Bowl of Birding in Massachusetts in January was not only the most productive trip of the year from a life bird standpoint (I got 9!), but I got to hang out with other great birders and add a few names to my blogger life list too.

1. Birding with Baby – Sure I didn’t see much in the way of “good” birds.  And sure it was only to the regular birding spot that I always go to when I don’t have anywhere else to go, but I hope this this experience is only the first of what will be many trips out in the field with my son.


I can already tell you that 2010 is going to be a pretty phenomenal year from a bird perspective for me just from what I know.  I’ll be expanding on that intentionally vague statement soon, and the great thing about birding is that the unexpected is always on the agenda too.  I’m looking forward to that as well.

I hope you’ll continue to follow along here at the Drinking Bird! Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

  1. January 1, 2010 12:39 pm

    Happy New Year and Happy Birthday Nate! Looking forward to your 2010 posts.

    Too bad about the flamingo.


  2. Nate permalink*
    January 1, 2010 1:35 pm

    @Bob- Thanks! Happy New Year to you and yours as well. As for the Flamingo? It stinks, but I figure I’ll turn up another one of these days.

  3. January 1, 2010 2:13 pm

    Happy birthday and happy new year!

    “Bald Head Birding” sounds like an event for the local Old Naturalists Club.

  4. January 2, 2010 10:49 pm

    Lovely post. Happy new year to you Nate.

  5. January 2, 2010 11:50 pm

    Is your B-day on the 1st or 2nd? Mine was the 1st, I’m now 15!

  6. Nate permalink*
    January 3, 2010 1:25 pm

    @John- No doubt, I have no idea how that island got its name.

    @Thomas- Thanks! The same to you!

    @Ali- I’m on the first too! Except I’ve just turned 30.

  7. January 3, 2010 9:38 pm

    Ah well, I’m exactly half.

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