So after last year’s big year I didn’t really plan on doing another big year again, ever. But then, in a stroke of late night genius (or something) I decided to try to see 250 birds this year without the use of a car. And on Sunday, at the Forest Park waterhole, an obliging Blue-headed Vireo (just after a Baltimore Oriole) got me to my halfway point. This is contingent, of course, on my planting some trees.

Wait, what? Well, you see, back when I decided to do this conservation-minded Big Year, I made myself a set of rules which included having to make up for the carbon emitted when I flew to California and back so that birds seen on foot could be counted while I stayed in Temecula. I decided to suck up the carbon that the jets emitted by planting trees at my parents’ house so I could enjoy them myself as they got bigger (and maybe see some birds in them too). So number one on my to-do list is to figure out what species of tree to plant (suggestions appreciated, but at the moment I am leaning towards Mountain Ash).

But this post isn’t about trees: it’s about birds! Being halfway home to my goal of 250 before May makes me feel good about the likelihood of reaching my goal within the New York City mass transit area. And, if it getting towards the end of the year and it doesn’t look good, there is an ace up my sleeve, a bunch of vacation time that I can use to take a train somewhere, anywhere, that I can add new species to my list. Just think, a train ride down the eastern seaboard, stopping along the way for Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Snail Kite

And I just might need that train ride. Turns out a lot of the species I could normally count on when in upstate New York are a bit harder to track down using New York City’s mass transit system. Where, for example, are Eastern Bluebirds? Or even Turkey Vultures? Of course, being in New York has its advantages too.

With May around the corner the birds should really start to pick up in both numbers and variety. Getting out to see birds as often as possible is absolutely critical in the next month. It’s not like there are mass transit routes to the breeding areas of most of the birds coming through. Good thing for me that Daisy has finals coming up: I’ll be out almost every morning!

Already over the last couple of days a Summer Tanager, White-eyed Vireos, and a Yellow-throated Warbler have been seen in New York City parks and I haven’t seen them. The first would have been a lifer, the second, a year bird, and the last, a new bird for New York State. White-eyed Vireo I should be able to find breeding at Jamaica Bay but the other two, well, I hope to find them at all. I have to twitch the rarities to get to 250!

So wish me luck as the spring migration gets into full swing…and just ignore that Charlie character’s assault on 1,000 species for the year, which I bet he’ll get to in June (anyone else think he’ll make 1,500?).

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.