Recently, a property came up to bid in Salt Lake, just five blocks from my office so I was asked to oversee the repair bidding process on this home. I was so excited for the opportunity to break free from the cubical farm and have a little field time. I had an appointment to meet a heating contractor and in my haste to get out of the office I arrived five minutes early. I discovered the yard to be severely overgrown as it had been abandoned for about a year, but the birds were plentiful. I thought I'd play a little game and see how many bird species I could see before my contractor arrived. My binoculars were left at home that day (a terrible mistake for anyone who truly calls oneself a birder), so this was going to be bare-naked birding at its is best!
Here's how the game went down:
A half dozen House Sparrows in the front rose bushes right off the bat.
I did a little pishing in the front yard..........nothin'. Movin' on.
When I walked around to the backyard, instantly a whole flurry of wing-beats erupted almost from under my feet...Three Red-shafted Northern Flickers, a few California Quail, and a dozen American Robins.
The Oregon Dark-eyed Juncos and the male Downy Woodpecker didn't seem to mind me being next to their brush pile. I enjoyed watching the Juncos up close as they hopped around scratching for food like little chickens. The Downy zoomed up and down short little branches protruding from the brush pile just feet from me.
This backyard abutted another large untamed yard where House Finches and European Starlings frolicked in the shrubs.
I thought that would be all the birds I would see, but just as my appointment arrived, a flock of Canada Geese flew noisily overhead.
Bam! Nine species in just a four short minutes. At lunchtime I submitted the checklist to eBird.
I had my camera with me to photograph the property, so I snapped a few shots of the birds while I played my little game. Here are a couple photos that were decent enough to share...
|Male Downy Woodpecker with the fantastic red patch on the back of his head.|
|A majestic American Robin seeking worms in the leaf litter freshly exposed to sunshine after a snow melt.|
|I'm not sure if this is a 1st year Robin or a female, but I thought the texture on its belly and throat was pretty neat.|
|House Sparrow in the overgrown rose bush. Even House Sparrows are fun when playing this little game.|
Live the birder's mantra and Always Be Birding!
(I've been inspired to play this little game regularly after reading Pete Dunne's articles "Ten Birds for Walter" and "Friendly Skies" in Birder's World Magazine, now called BirdWatching.)