Snow Bunting

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!

Snow Bunting

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.

Common Redpoll

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.

American Tree Sparrow

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.

Falcated Duck

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.

Eastern Kingbird

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.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Seven months later came the Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra).

Summer Tanager

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.

Snow Bunting


Snow Bunting


Snow Bunting

References: 1Wikipedia

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.