I’m having a hard time deciding whether this was the year of the yellow-bellied sapsucker, or of the swimming doves. I’m leaning toward the doves.
The sapsucker was a novice birder’s treat. It showed up Dec. 11, a Saturday. I was sitting in my office at the back of the house and saw it flitting around in the neighbor’s elm tree. It hung around for several hours, dining on sap seeping from wounds in the tree. A juvenile (which is what made the identification possible), and the only “YBS” (as one of my bird friends called it in an email exchange afterwards) reported on eBird this year in Bernalillo County.
But I’ll have to go with the swimming doves. It was the strangest thing. For a couple of weeks back in October, the white-winged doves would light in the edge of the stock tank in our back yard, then one at a time hop in and clumsily swim across.
I picked the doves in part because they’re such stalwarts. Pretty much every time I sit down to watch and make a list, they’ll be there. One could view them as annoyingly ordinary, but I think they’re a great success – good at what they do, far better than the sapsucker, exciting as it was. Just one of ’em? C’mon.
The table below is the result of 139 observations. The number is the percentage of lists each month for which the species was present. (I think the juncos are above 100 percent sometimes because of the way eBird counts subspecies.) Other highlights of 2010:
- the pine siskins that showed up in February (first time on the yard list), learned how to eat out of the goldfinch feeder, and stayed
- the lack of roadrunners (perhaps a lowlight?)
- the ladder-backed woodpeckers, which are a lot of fun
- the lack of inca doves, which used to be common, but which I haven’t seen since September (lowlight)
- In April, a flight of turkey vultures. I was watching a hawk through binoculars when all of a sudden a giant bird flew right through my field of view. Then another. Then another. I love turkey vultures.
Click through for the full list.