|Lesser Goldfinch in my Tucson Backyard January 2008|
When I first started to get serious about birding and blogging I was encouraged by a fellow blogger named Larry from the Brownstone Birding Blog. Not only was he one of the first people to comment on my first blog, Sycamore Canyon, he was also the person who got me started on doing a Big January. Part of the challenge he gave us in that first year of 2008 was to enter our data into eBird. Though I had participated in The Great Backyard Bird Count and Project Feederwatch, I had not yet tried eBird. That January I did and I was amazed at how much fun it was to have all my lists in one location, separated by date, location, county and state. I quickly became an eBird enthusiast. I have also played the Big January Game every year since.
|Female Great-tailed Grackle January 2008 Tucson, AZ|
Big January is played by counting all the bird species you can see in your own state starting at midnight of January 1st through Midnight of January 31st. You can count birds anywhere and everywhere in your own state and, if you want to, you can have a friendly competition with other birds from other states, or just with yourself. However, by submitting your bird counts to eBird, you not only have fun, you also help the birds!
Here are some of the highlights from my previous Big Januarys:
|Great Egret in Christopher Columbus Park Tucson, AZ 2008|
|Costa's Hummingbird January 2008 Tucson, AZ|
|Kathie birding at the Ina Road Wetlands January 31, 2008|
|Whitewater Draw January 2009|
|Chestnut-sided warbler January 2009 Sabino Canyon, AZ|
|Townsend's Warbler January 2009 Madera Canyon, AZ|
|Northern Pintail Reid Park January 2009 Tucson, AZ|
Of course, Reid park in central Tucson has helped me out also!
|Scaled Quail January 2010 Corona de Tucson, AZ|
But often I can find some of the best birds right in my own neighborhood, like this Scaled Quail I found at a friend's house in my Corona de Tucson neighborhood of Sycamore Canyon!
|Leucisitic Vermilion flycatcher January 2010 Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, AZ|
|Mexican Jay January 2010 Madera Canyon|
|Red-breasted Nuthatch Andover yard 2011|
In January of 2011 we had snow storm after snow storm after snow storm! I never shoveled so much snow in my life! However, all that snow drove the one and only Red-breasted Nuthatch I saw all year in Massachusetts into my yard and to my suet feeder. The photos I took verify that I actually saw it! Otherwise I might doubt it myself! I never saw another in Massachusetts all year!
|Red-bellied Woodpecker January 2011 My Andover Yard|
|Carolina Wren January 2011 Andover Yard|
|Cooper's Hawk January 2011 Andover Yard|
|Mute Swan January 20ll Turner Falls, MA Power Canal|
With all that snow and the accompanying freezing temperatures we had to drive to places that had open water to see ducks and other waterfowl. So one day Gus and I took a drive out Route 2 to Turner Falls along the Connecticut River where this Mute Swan was just one of several birds we saw that day.
|Swamp Sparrow January 1, 2012 Stirling Street Bog, Andover, MA|
My Big January Totals
- 2008 Arizona 89 species
- 2009 Arizona 107 species
- 2010 Arizona 113 species
- 2011 Massachusetts 55 species
- 2012-click here to see the current list
If you are wondering how eBird uses all that data, well, they just had an article published by a peer-reviewed online journal the Public Library of Science. You can read that article here: eBird PloS Biology
And if you are not quite up to a Big January count yet, then, let me encourage you to participate in this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count in February. It is not only easy; it is four days of Birding Fun!