If one were to draw a distinction between birders and bird watchers — and I don’t necessarily agree that such a separation must be devised — a clear divide between the camps would be a love of listing. The general consensus is that birding and listing, like Snow Buntings and Horned Larks feeding on a frost-bitten field, go hand in hand. And I have always considered myself a lover of lists. Yet as the Ides of March approach, the inkling I had back in January has solidified into a fully-formed actuality…

I am not keeping a 2010 year list.

Yikes! I think Corey just fell down dead, simply so he could roll over in his grave. Some out there may be murmuring whispers of heresy or apostasy while others are more likely nursing smirks. Before I get consigned to the “seagull” table and stripped of my Sibley Guide, allow me to explain my uncharacteristic reticence to record this year’s sightings.

Yes, I kept a year list in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. And yes, I’m watching birds in 2010 as well. In fact, I expect this to be my most prolific year in terms of species count yet. The problem is that I just don’t have time to record my sightings. My life list, of course, will remain current, though the version on this blog is woefully out of date. Careful tabulation of when I saw my first Common Grackle of the season, however, must give way to more pressing matters, like actually going out to see said grackles!

I’ve not lost the passion for phenological observations nor am I impugning the keeping of a year list, an act that often enhances encounters with typical birds the way salt seasons french fries. This year, however, I’ll have to savor my seasonal species for their own sakes. New species, on the other hand, will be added to my life list with all due reverence and alacrity!

Are you keeping a 2010 year list? If so, why? If not, why not?


Another remarkable bird that won’t make my year list!

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Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.