Twitching is a British term used to mean “the pursuit of a previously located rare bird.” In North America it is more often called chasing, though the British usage is starting to catch on there, especially among younger birders1.
I have never really been a twitcher. Basically, I never had the time to chase birds. That being said, I have just recently conducted my seventh successful twitch!
The Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax rustica) in the two photos above was found less than 60 miles from my home.
Oddly enough, the Common Redpoll (Acanthis flammea), my first ever twitch back in the winter of 2009, was spotted within a mile or so from the Snow Bunting on the same road in McArthur. A very rare find in Northern California.
My second twitch, during the winter of 2011, was also in the area of McArthur where an American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) was spotted during a Christmas Bird Count.
For the past several years I have been taking advantage of our many National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) here in Northern California.
I have been so impressed by our NWRs that nearly five years ago, an incredible wildlife photographer and my friend Ingrid Taylar and I began a campaign to create a new funding stream for our beleaguered refuges; the Wildlife Conservation Pass Project.
This leads me to my third twitch for the celebrated Falcated Duck (Anas falcata) at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge in January of 2012.
In September of 2013 there was an Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) seen in Redding, California, less than 30 miles from my home. This was a no-brainer. I found it within 30 minutes.
The next rare bird that I was able to chase came a couple of years later in January 2016. There was a Vermillion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) spotted, also in Colusa County.
Seven months later came the Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra).
These twitches were all lifers for me. I am not a serious “lister” although I try to post all of my sightings on eBird, I only keep a life list. I also do what I can to advance bird conservation by participating in as many Christmas Bird Counts as I can every winter. My passion is bird photography and behavior. I love observing birds and photographing them.
Thanks to my local list serve, Shasta Birders, I have been able to discover the rare birds in my area. I make this statement with this addendum; I would not post the location of a species that could be targeted during hunting season. For an excellent discussion on sharing wildlife locations, please read Ingrid’s post here.
I hope you enjoy these photos of my recent experience with the Snow Bunting.