|Some of the birds added to my yard list this spring migration.|
Flyovers--This is the key to boosting your yard list. Most of us will never have shorebirds, gulls, or most water birds landing in our yards. But these birds are going over, and so you need a strategy for seeing them. For many songbirds, early morning may be the best time to be out looking for flyovers--as many birds are flying around in the morning looking for good foraging habitat after migrating all night. Keep your eyes open scan the skies. If you can get some elevation, that can help. I can't tell you to get up on your roof--that may not be safe--but finding a way to see more of the sky can help you see more birds going over. Evening is also a great time to look for birds flying over--especially gulls or wading birds going to roost, or migrating shorebirds heading out at dusk.
|American Bittern call recorded 13 May 2012|
|Black-crowned Night Heron call recorded 16 April 2012 (Hunterdon County, NJ)|
I've added at least 29 species to my yard list this way in April and May, and the list is bound to climb as I continue identifying additional calls that I've recorded. In most cases, I don't have good habitat for these birds in my yard, so they it might be tough to actually ever see them here. But by birding at night, and recording their calls, I can experience a much bigger percentage of the migration going over or through my yard.
Spring migration is winding down, but some birds will still be moving over much of North America for the next week or two. Then fall migration starts for some birds as early as late June. So plan to be outside as much as you can, especially early and late in the day. Get some comfy yard chairs and perch yourself with a good view of the sky, and don't stop birding when it gets dark. There are hundreds of bird species flying over your county each year. With some planning, luck, and a lot of fun, you can find a much larger percentage of them from your yard, even if you don't think you have a very birdy yard!