Thursday, October 1, 2015


It's been 5 months since our last update, when we were at 250 species. With each new bird we added to the big year blog, the next number became that much tougher. Well, we've added 50 birds since our last post, putting us at 300 species total in the first 9 months of the year! 300 was a goal for me when we started this back in January, a goal that seemed like it might be out of reach. 300 species of birds is a remarkable number, and does a great job in highlighting the avian diversity which we are fortunate to have here in Travis County. More importantly, we have had submissions from 40 different contributors, and without all of you, we would be nowhere near our current total.

That said, I think we're in a great position to keep pushing and see what number we can finish up with. Obviously, we've added many very unexpected birds in the last 5 months, including Magnificent Frigatebird, Lesser Nighthawk, and Violet-green Swallow. We've also done a great job of nailing down most of the more expected species. Fall and winter will provide us with an opportunity to pick up some of the birds we missed earlier this year, and we still have the possibility that some very unexpected birds may show up before the end of the year. 

Here are some birds to keep an eye out for in the coming months:

Ross's Goose
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Horned Grebe
Ruddy Turnstone
American Woodcock
Red-necked Phalarope
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Burrowing Owl
Short-eared Owl
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Prairie Falcon
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Mountain Bluebird
Sprague's Pipit
Lapland Longspur
Chestnut-collared Longspur
Green-tailed Towhee
Lark Bunting
Purple Finch

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed to the big year so far. I know we are all looking forward to seeing what our total is on December 31st!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Migration...Taking Us Past 250

We're almost to the end of April, and a Veery found this morning put us up to 255. Over the last few weeks, we've had an expected influx of migrant passerines, shorebirds, raptors, and more. Everybody has been doing a great job, and I know that we will keep it up over the next month. The winter closed out well, with us picking up all the expected sparrows and ducks, and now we need to focus on May migrants, as we may not get the chance in the fall. These are some of the more expected birds we'll need in the coming weeks:

Stilt Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Black Tern
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Bank Swallow
Mourning Warbler
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Canada Warbler

I'm hopeful that we may luck into some other, less expected birds, such as Gray-cheeked Thrush, Lazuli Bunting, and maybe a Cerulean Warbler. Alder and Willow Flycatchers will need audio recordings, as the two are undistinguishable by visual field marks.

Strong work, everybody! Let's keep it up as we enter the most exciting time of the year!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


After an expected late February/early March lull, new submissions are picking up for the big year. Today, we hit 200 with an Ash-throated Flycatcher. Over the last couple weeks, we've had some pretty great additions, the highlight being a completely unexpected Evening Grosbeak. We also ticked off a couple of the more difficult winterish birds with American Bittern and Virginia Rail. Unfortunately, American Woodcock still evades us. The next month will be a big push of migrants and local breeders, and we can see some of that is already beginning as we have added Swainson's Hawk, Nashville Warbler, American Golden-Plover, and the highly local Yellow-throated Warbler. I look forward to seeing what we can turn up in what should be the most exciting month of the year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Six Weeks In...

We're just past the six week mark, and we're up to 176 species from 31 contributors. In the last couple of weeks, we've been able to pick up some of the more expected birds that have been eluding us (Cinnamon Teal, Common Goldeneye, Little Blue Heron) as well as migrant Snow and Greater White-fronted Geese, Anhinga, and Eastern Towhee. Additionally, I just posted our first audio recording bird, a Hutton's Vireo. We are still in need of a few birds that might be around for a little while longer (American Bittern, Virginia Rail) and we should hopefully get our first Golden-cheeked Warbler in a few weeks.

Keep up the good work everybody; things are about to start picking up!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Past the 150 Mark

Wow, that went quick. We are 20 days into the new year, and we've passed 150 species! Even better, some of the recent submissions knocked out some pretty tough birds for us (Zone-tailed Hawk, Green Kingfisher, Say's Phoebe, Sedge Wren, etc.) I know it seems like things may start slowing down, but there are still some birds that we need to get out of the way. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, some targets include Cinnamon Teal, Common Goldeneye, Burrowing Owl, Short-eared Owl, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Grasshopper Sparrow.

We've also made the first assignments of the year. Some of these are tougher than others, but they all will require extra work and dedicated searching. Let me know if you'd like to be included.

Kenny Anderson - Scarlet Tanager
Rich Kostecke - Chestnut-collared Longspur
Eric Carpenter - Cassin's Sparrow
Paul Sunby - Virginia Rail
AJ Johnson - American Bittern
Arman Moreno - Reddish Egret
Nate McGowan - American Woodcock
Erik Huebner - Eastern Whip-poor-will

Also, if you are noticing any omissions from the checklist or contributors list, please let me know. I'm trying to keep up, but things may slip past me.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

10 Days In...

We're ten days into the big year and we're sitting at 112 species. There are still some pretty easy birds to pick up, although the weather this weekend is less than cooperative. We're also up to 17 contributors and I want to thank each of you for your help and involvement. At the request of a few contributors, I'm going to try to start including date and location information for the submissions. If possible, please name your photos with species, location, and date.

It's also time that I throw down a challenge. There are some birds that require some extra work. We need some heroes. We're looking for Virginia Rail (remember that an audio recording will suffice), American Bittern, American Woodcock, and Brown Creeper. Who will it be?

Monday, January 5, 2015

The first 84

Okay, we're through the first weekend of the year and I think it's safe to say we are doing pretty well. Our primary targets this week were the rarities and vagrants that have been present since last year and a few people helped us out by picking up Brown Booby, Curve-billed Thrasher, Bullock's Oriole, and Pyrrhuloxia. We've also picked up some routine winter things, although there are some easy targets for anyone looking to add some things. We are at 84 species from 12 contributors, and I see both of those lists growing considerably in the coming weeks. 

For those of you looking for a bit tougher challenge, these are some winter species that are here but need some extra effort in tracking down:

Cinnamon Teal
Greater Scaup
Sedge Wren
Eastern Towhee
LeConte's Sparrow

Thanks to everybody who helped this big year get off to a successful start.