Saturday, January 14, 2017

Year of the...?

Birds.  Yay, nay, or indifferent?  I'm a resounding yay in that category.  Love 'em!  I've fancied myself an extremely novice birder for a while, but I can hold my own with lots of common bird id's.

I watch, think about, and attempt to identify birds more than I'd like to admit!  Especially when we hike and travel.

To the point where when I I see a bird and don't know what it is, I try to commit the main features to memory so I can look it up to hopefully id later.  You know, to add it to my slowly growing bird arsenal.

My latest newly identified bird was an Oak Titmouse in my neighborhood.  What a little cutie pie!

Oak Titmouse
Photo credit: By Ingrid Taylar from San Francisco Bay Area - California, USA (Oak Titmouse in the Shade), via Wikimedia Commons

Got that one now.  I won't wonder about what kind it is anymore! 

I can remember one time when we lived in Florida, I was driving past a small pond and saw a substantial flock of Wood Storks wading and chilling around the pond.  I got so excited about seeing almost a dozen Wood Storks all in one place that I almost drove off the road.

The mighty Wood Stork
Photo credit: by Charlesjsharp (Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography), via Wikimedia Commons

What?  It's a somewhat rare sighting!  And if you're lucky you'll only see 1 or 2, but not over a dozen all together!  It was super cool.  Not to worry, I didn't actually drive off the road.  It was close, though.

Yep, I'm a bird nerd through and through.  But, despite all my birding nonsense, I guess I wasn't really part of the club.


Well, because I was completely in the dark about a fun little little New Year's Day birder tradition that exists.  Now that I know about it, I guess I'm really legit.  Ha.

I can thank Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds by Lyanda Lynn Haupt for enlightening me.  The gist is this.

The very first bird you're able to identify on New Year's Day is your bird of the year.  So whatever you identify becomes your "year of the fill in the blank."

On New Year's Day this year, we were camping in Monterey, CA, so I knew I might have a unique opportunity to see a bird I possibly wouldn't normally see.

Or so I thought.

Turned out my bird of the year is one that I see every day in my backyard.  But, it's also a species I identified only after moving to California.  So, a common bird for this area, but still a new to me species.

Ready?  Drum roll, please.

2017 is my year of the Western Scrub Jay.  The name was just recently changed from Western Scrub Jay to California Scrub Jay.  Which begs the question, "Why does California feel the need to appropriate the name?"  But again, I digress.

They're actually super vibrant, beautiful birds.  Also on the irritating side because they're extremely screechy and loud.  There's no mistaking their squawk when you hear it. Straight up obnoxious!

Western/California Scrub Jay
Photo credit: by Jessica Merz (Flickr: Western Scrub-Jay), via Wikimedia Commons

I'm glad my bird of the year turned out to be the Scrub Jay.  No, not because I can fully unleash obnoxiousness in 2017.

Because it's a perfect geographic reflection of exactly where in the world we are in 2017 on our loony Coast Guard path.  Year of the Scrub Jay!  Bring it.

Ta-ta for now.

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