Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Big January Birding Totals- 2012

January 1, 2012 in Nayarit, Mexico

It is 4,090 km from our home to my parents' home in Nayarit, Mexico. I estimated that I travelled close to 10,000 km this month while counting birds. I birded in subtropical, desert, ocean, Great Lakes, and snowy climates. I regret not taking my binoculars to Mexico as I missed many bird IDs by using just my camera zoom to view them. But when your suitcase weighs 49.9 pounds, something has to stay home.

Birding in the snow on January 29, 2012

This winter is unusually warm and in our area of Ontario, Canada, 18 days in January were above freezing. I really noticed a difference in local bird populations this year. Our bird feeders are very quiet and I have not refilled them this month. I looked hard but did not find more common winter birds such as Red-breasted Nuthatches, Cedar Waxwings, Rough-legged Hawks, Brown Creepers, to name a few.

Birding on January 31, 2012 on a beautiful sunny afternoon (7 degrees C!)

My monthly total is 93 birds, 54 seen in Canada (compared with 52 in 2011), 43 seen in Mexico, with 4 birds seen in both countries. We travelled to the Pacific coast on December 31, 2011 and it is tempting to add the 15 birds I saw that day, but that list has been kept separate. (There is a tab at the top of this page with all the lists). I added 20 life birds between December 31st and January 31st and I still plan to share more photos and stories about Mexico and Canada.

In the end, it not the numbers that matter, but the enjoyment of getting out and observing nature. After a stressful day at work, there is nothing more relaxing than going to a nearby park to be serenaded by Black-capped Chickadees looking for handouts. These gregarious little birds are my favourite winter species just for the trust they show by landing on my outstretched hand. They always bring a smile to my face.

The January count is just a kick start to a year of bird observation. It is interesting to note seasonal changes as well as variations in annual patterns. Since I started doing January counts in 2009, I have recorded 80 species in Canada in the month even though each year I have seen only 52 to 61 species.

"There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds... 
There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- 
the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter..."
Rachel Carson 


  1. Very cute pictures with the Chickadees at the binoculars

  2. Wow, you saw a lot of species, of course you were in two countries with vastly different environments.

    You Definitely need smaller binos to travel with but these make a great bird feeder. Very cute set up.

  3. Ruth, well done! good for you! It's nice to see your totals, especially fro Canada. wow! You ar eone brave birder going out in all that snow!

    I agree with you about the enjoyment of the birds. The numbers make it a fun "game' but the birds just make it relaxing and fun, period! It's so nice to be on this journey with you. I, too, like to compare the numbers from previous years and notice the difference from what I saw last year to what I saw this year. Congrats on your lifers!

  4. It's a bit of strange winter season for birding, but the weather is strange this year as well. Love the photos of the chickadees...not only are they my favorite winter bird...but my all time favorite bird for the same reason you have. I will admit that I talk to them when they are hanging around my palm looking for hand outs.

  5. This is a great summary of your January birding adventures. I can certainly appreciate the numbers games. Intersting how birding lends itself so easily to stats. There are so many possibilities to the kind of lists one can keep. I really like the January list thing. I have a friend that keeps monthly yard lists. He can go back about 10 years for example and examine the "March" lists or the "October" lists.

  6. Love the birding in the snow pic.

    Someone from the Belleville area (I think) said he has 11 robins in his backyard yesterday morning. I can scarcely fathom it, but surely he knows what a robin looks like, so it would seem to be true.

  7. Thanks for you comments. I really enjoy January birding. @AC- I usually find Robins in protected areas along the Grand River and the Niagara Escarpment in January.I don't count them as spring Robins until I hear them singing. But seeing Robins in a backyard sounds pretty spring-like to me.

  8. Cute photos of the chicadee perched on the binoculars. He wants to be sure he is counted.

  9. We had an unusually warm January too.It did seem to affect the usual trend in winter birds.93 species and 20 new life birds-that's terrific! It sounds like you enjoyed this Big January more than some of the others you've done. Must be nice to have the variety of species from two places.

  10. Hi Ruth,
    Just visiting once again. What a wonderful journey you are having! I love that image of the binoculars with your little feathered friend atop them, and that quote is a favorite of mine as well. Have a great year!


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