How do you track your birds?

I don't officially have a life list of birds, but I saw a whole bunch of new birds while out in MA during the Superbowl of birding weekend. I’m including birds that I can’t remember seeing, although I’m sure I’ve seen a few in NJ on birding trips.

My current system of tracking birds is simply checking them off in my field guide. I’m pretty bad at keeping up with my checking off process and inevitable I miss some along the way. What process do you use to track your bird lists – handwritten, spreadsheets, word documents, software, manual checking? What recommendations do you have for me before I dive into the process?

Here are my lifers for the trip:
Common Eider
White-winged Scoter
Black Guillemot
White-winged Crossbill
Common Redpoll
Snowy Owl
Northern Hawk Owl
Iceland Gull
Glaucous Gull

I would have to rate the Northern Hawk Owl as my top life bird for the trip with the Snowy owl right behind it. We didn’t get a good look at the Snowy, but it definitely was one. If we had seen the Ivory gull I think it would have been a dead tie.

Let me know what you think about my life list issue – thanks.

I'm too cool and I KNOW it!


Kallen305 said...

That is some list!!

I use an Excel spreadsheet with formulas and everything. It gives me such joy to see my subotal add 1more bird species to my thin list.

Lately I have been seing nothing except for the common backyard birds so it's getting a tad discouraging. You have seen more birds in Massachusetts during your one short trip here than I have all year and I live in the state! ;o)

John said...

I like software-based list-keeping because it allows me to pull out information relatively quickly. I used to use Avisys; now I use eBird. The latter has the advantage of making bird records available to scientists and other birders.

noflickster said...

I've got to echo a shout out for eBird. On the one hand, it's awesome to (let it) calculate whatever I'm curious about (life list, year list, yard list, etc) as well as generate reports of locations I'm interested in. After a few years of entering lists from my yard I have a pretty clear idea of when to expect each regularly-occurring species to appear/depart.

On the other hand, even if I don't choose to track any of that, there are others that benefit - other birders, and more importantly, scientists who can apply my observations (and others) to conservation.

Not to mention I like the community aspect, we're all working towards a common goal.

And very impressive list from your trip!

corey said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike...eBird is the way to go!

RuthieJ said...

I'm going to have to check out eBird--right now my life list is hand-written in a notebook (not very efficient!)

Owlman said...

Kallen305, the best way to add to your list is to get out to new spots. I am guilty of travelling long distances, rather than looking for birds in my area. Adding to your backyard birds takes time and patience. I'm hoping that landscaping enhancements will draw more birds.

John, yeah I've heard that Avisys is pretty good. I'll have to check into eBird - thanks.

Mike, another vote for eBird - thanks. I didn't realize it was that flexible, I'll have to check it out.

Corey, no hard feeling about the Towhee right? Thanks for the eBird vote bud.

RuthieJ, I'm basically in the same place as you, so I'll have to check out eBird too.

Thanks for the feedback all and for stopping in.

Mike said...

Like Kimberly, I use an excel spreadsheet. I did upload my list to Birdstack but can't seem to maintain an online list. I find those times when I can't get online (like the plane ride back from a killer trip) to be when I'm in the mood to work on my list.

Also, I keep a year list on the blog. This can make for interesting content especially if you link year birds to the posts in which you mention them.