New Year's Resolutions for Birders

  1. Go birding more.
  2. Introduce a friend or better yet a young person to the joys of birding.
  3. Volunteer to run a Breeding Bird Survey route. These are lots of fun unless you’ve locked your keys in the car 25 miles from anywhere and have no cell service, which adds significant cost (window replacement) to your volunteer effort.
  4. Think twice before deciding to do a “Big Year.” If you’ve decided to tackle a Big Year in 2009, you will surely have “don’t do a Big Year” on your 2010 list.
  5. Spend more time walking and birding around your neighborhood. This will assist with your non-birding list of resolutions, which likely includes “exercise more.” You will also find interesting birds and maybe meet the neighbor who has a Rustic Bunting coming to her feeder.
  6. Read at least one book that captures the essence of birding. I highly recommend Kenn Kaufman’s “Kingbird Highway” and Scott Weidensaul’s “On the Wings of Angels.” It may be out of print, but William Davis’ “Dean of the Birdwatchers: A Biography of Ludlow Griscom” is also an exceptional read.
  7. If you purchase new optics, donate your old pair to the American Birding Association’s Birder’s Exchange. This is a great program that helps outfit local biologists and researchers studying birds in the Neotropics.
  8. If you’ve not done so before, go on a Christmas Bird Count. You can probably check this one off right away since there are several counts being conducted this coming weekend.
  9. Buy only shade-grown organic coffee.
  10. Take in a birding “spectacle.” These events will raise your spirits and in some cases bring tears of utter joy. An excellent list of these events appears online at To this list I would add Oregon’s Abert Lake in early August, where it is possible to see up to 300,000 Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes and tens of thousands of California and Ring-billed Gulls in a day.

I would like to suggest one change to your list and one addendum.

I think you should change number 8 to:
If you’ve not done so before, go on a spring or fall North American Migration Count. You can see many more species and your chances of frostbite, death by avalanche, or vitamin D deficiency are greatly reduced.

As an addendum to #10, I think you should add:
You can take advantage of Oregon’s most unique avian feature. Camp Sherman Oregon is the only place in the world where you can find eleven species of woodpecker within a 15 mile diameter circle. Central Oregon’s Woodpecker Wonderland Festival celebrates this “spectacle” and promises to be an unforgettable event.


One thing that any birder at any skill level can do is to photograph flocks of ducks, gulls, shorebirds or anything else that “mixes,” do the i.d. in the field as best you can and then on some rainy evening, go through the photos bird by bird and see if you can identify every bird correctly. In some cases, e.g. gulls, you often can’t, but with practice more of those nasty brown things can be identified and you will get more comfortable with them.


A top resolution for me is to get a passport so I can go on a repositioning cruise with other birders and add some pelagic species to my life list.


Hi Sarah,if someone emilas or tweets me I will always respond (but not if it is spam which, like most of us, I ignore of course) unless for some reason I have overlooked the initial contact. As you know, when a subscriber to Twitter is either mentioned in a tweet, or is messaged directly or openly via another subscriber, Twitter sends a message to the recipient, who receives it either in the form of an email or a text on a mobile phone. I receive messages from Twitter in both formats. In this instance I received no communications in any form from yourself (I would have responded!). What’s worrying is that yesterday I discovered quite by chance that someone else had sent me a tweet which I did not receive so that makes two missed contacts. I have no explanation for why this has (not) happened! Apart from monitoring Twitter 24/7 I can’t see a way around it. Hopefully it was just a glitch and it won’t happen again. Do feel free to contact me on which appears (at present)to be more reliable! Sorry I can’t be more helpful at this stage!RegardsMike


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