Tuesday, July 28, 2015

600 Life Birds

Oh the road can be sooooo slow!  Life birds?  What are those?  Last year in April I was at 500 life birds.  Throughout the year, I added birds regularly every month.  This year it has been a trickle:) I suppose it gives me a chance to absorb all the amazing observations of the birds without feeling rushed.  I do hope to make up for the birds down in Mexico this year. Will I be able to make it to 700 by the year end?  Here are the stories behind each of the top ten birds.

Monk Parakeet
The Monk Parakeet was seen downtown Ft. Myers, Florida near a swimming pool.  I grew up with these birds at home as they are sold in the pet trade as Quakers. In fact, this is how they invaded the US! Loud, ruthless and quick to multiply, the Monk Parakeets have become established in many US communities which include cities like cold Chicago and tropical Florida.  My bud Sydney and I played a hunch and followed the human trail to several nest sites and voila! There they flew in great numbers with twigs and branches making nests around power lines and palm trees.

Wilson's Plover
The Wilson's Plover was number 510.  I went to Bunche Beach, Florida to count hundreds of shorebirds only to come out with thousands of chigger bites!  It took nearly two months for my body to heal!  It rained after I heard and saw the bird.  I was able to help several birders get their scopes on the this plover.  Later in Mexico, I would see this bird once again under much better circumstances.  Sunny and bug less! It's call is distinct and easy to pick out.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
At 520, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak made its way into Willcox, AZ.  I went to chase the bird and hung out in a very kind man's backyard.  There we watched this beautiful bird feed off of his fruiting mulberry tree.

By life bird 530, I was in Maine visiting Kathie.  Together, we went to a field near her home and discovered the magnificent Bobolinks.  There they called and collected caterpillars for their young ones. This is one unusual and gorgeous blackbird.

Black Guillemot
Life bird 540 happened near Eastern Egg Island.  This Black Guillemont went after what looked like twizzler's licorice.  I braced myself on the rocky boat as I snapped off several shots of this bird flying near the side of our boat.  At this point both Micheal and Kathie were under the weather and very seasick!  Now THAT was an adventure I won't forget anytime soon:)  Nor will they.

Blue-headed Vireo
In the dark mossy forests of Maine, we discovered a Blue-headed Vireo.  This lovely bird graced the branches while we sweat it out in the woods:)  This bird made 550 on the list. 

Prairie Warbler
At 560, the Prairie Warbler made its swirly call as the rain began to fall.  I was able to briefly see this bird before it went back into hiding as two young morons revved up their truck and sped past us on the dirt roads of Maine. 

the exotic Northern Red Bishop
At 570, I was alone again in California.  Here I spotted the exotic invading Northern Red Bishop.  What a beauty!!!

By December, it all began to slow down.  Again, I returned to Southern California where I stood silently near a city park lake and watched the Wrentits move around me.  This was Life bird 580.  

At 590, the Black-throated Blue Warbler was a real shyster. Not all life birds play nice.  We sat and waited and waited for this warbler to come out.  When he did, the tiny warbler was so far away! I finished in the US with number 599, the Painted Bunting.  But I wondered which bird would mark the magical 600.  Drum roll...............

Green Parakeets
We flew into Southern Mexico during the night hours.  At dawn, the first bird that made itself known was the Green Parakeet. They seemed to be flying everywhere around us.  And so in my life, number 600 marks the Green Parakeet. The adventure continues next week as we begin our exploration into Chiapas, Mexico. 


  1. Some really cracking birds here - the 600 number makes me wonder what my life list stands at - been a bit neglected of late, I think I will need to go and sort it out!!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  2. I can only say "awesome, awesome, awesome!"

  3. Well tht is a marvellous achievemnet and a lovely post to ilustrate it with great shots and explanations.

  4. Wow, Chris! Congrats on your 600 lifers. The Red Bishop is a gorgeous bird. Great post, thansk for sharing. Happy Birding!

  5. That's a very esoteric 600 Chris. Parrots, warblers and waders. I remember the Rose-breasted Grosbeak only too well from banding in Ontario as the bird with the meanest grip ever and most banders doing their best to avoid handling one. Also saw one in the UK on the Isles of Scilly one autumn time, a vagrant which crossed the divide.

    The Wilson's is a real neat bird that I would quite like to see and hear.

    You'd best get busy now if you want that 700. That's two a week for a year - not easy!

  6. Very interesting birds and I enjoyed the stories. Hope your trip to Mexico adds more birds to your list.

  7. Awesome post Mr. Chris!!! I enjoyed it very much! 600 is such a good number!

  8. Don't stress about the numbers .... enjoy the journey ....

  9. Hoping you break 700 by next spring! Love that Red Bishop and all the photos are wonderful! Really loved that bright, sweet little warbler in the trees!

  10. A great achievement to reach 600 Chris - wonderful post and photos. Don't worry too much about the next 100 just enjoy the birding and the number will slowly creep up.

    Enjoy your trip :)

  11. Chris, you are amazing and these are all amazing birds! I must admit that I feel glad to have helped you find at least some of these and that we shared this adventure! It seems appropriate that you got a Green Parakeet as Life Bird 600 given your family connection with these types of birds! Congrats, my friend! What a Life!


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