Birders and Lists, Part I

Birders make lists. We like to keep track of things. Things like how many species of birds we have seen in their lives. Where we saw them. When. With whom. Really compulsive birders keep lists for every trip they take or have taken. Which birds came to which feeders in their yard. When. With whom. Which birds returned after Winter. When. With whom. Which migrants stopped by for a rest and some food on their way North. What they ate. Which ones stopped by to visit on their way South. How many they’ve seen this year. This month. Today. It is best if they can cross reference the lists. Then they can identify how many species they saw on that trip to South Texas ten years ago compared to this year’s trip. Their grandchildren may want to know whether they saw a Roseate Spoon Bill on their 2001 trip to Laguna Atascosa. These people need a computer and some serious software, otherwise their sightings and lists will be lost to history.

You get the idea. Some birders are compulsive. Others, not so much. Some just want to keep one list, all the species of birds they’ve seen in this life. Maybe a chronological list. And maybe an annual list, just for fun. These birders don’t need a computer to keep their lists. An old fashioned note book and a pen work just as well. There may even be a few apostates who don’t keep even a single list.

We fall in the middle category, for the most part. We keep lists of birds we see on particular outings and, if we take a vacation, we’ll keep a list of what we saw and where. And we both have a life list. That is about it. We really don’t need a computer and fancy software to keep track of it. But we have it anyway.

Last year, while looking at a Yellow Grosbeak yellow-grosbeak-small.jpg– think of an American Goldfinch on steroids – someone recommended a software program named AviSys. It eventually became a birthday present from one of us to the other. ($110.00 including tax and shipping. The program is only for PC’s and is not written for Apple.) If you are a birder of the first kind and want lists upon lists upon lists, all cross-indexed and ready at the click of a mouse, (several clicks actually and some key-boarding) we recommend it heartily. If you are a computer programmer, rocket scientist or professional ornithologist, we recommend it heartily. If you are an ordinary mortal, wait for our next post before you run out and buy it. It is a fine program but, unless you are a computer programmer, you need forewarning.

Yellow Grosbeaks, by the way, are not supposed to be in the United States. But this one came and spent the summer allowing hundreds if not thousands of birders to add it to their Life List. The bird spent the summer in the backyard of a lawyer here. She told the North American Rare Bird Alert people and they posted instructions of how to get to her house. She left coffee out all day for visitors. Her dogs tolerated all the visitors. The bird tolerated all the visitors and a good time was had by all.

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