A birder recently told me that he didn’t do much local birding because he had “seen it all.” I understand what he meant; once you have birded an area long enough, it becomes increasingly unlikely that you are going to see any new species. But I will never reach the point where I have seen everything there is to see, no matter how small an area we are talking about.
As I am currently being held captive by our new puppy, I haven’t been able to get out into the field to bird for about two weeks. The bird feeder has been busy, but with the same half-dozen species that I normally see. Yet I continue to look out the window at every opportunity, just to see what is going on. Why? Because you never know. If a Brambling or a Xantus’s Hummingbird or a Rustic Bunting shows up around here, it will probably be at a backyard bird feeder. Even if the mega-rarity never shows, there is still plenty to see and much to learn about the more mundane. When will the Pine Siskins arrive this year, or will they? Will there ever be a Common Redpoll among them? Just the other day, a Pileated Woodpecker flew over the property. This is a new bird for the yard list. I happened to see this bird when I was taking the puppy out for the gazillionth time and noticed a shadow pass over us. I turned to glimpse this large woodpecker flying over and then disappear. What other species have flown over when I didn’t happen to glance up? In the eight years I have lived here, there have been noticeable changes in the bird species that use the property. The Northern Saw-whet Owl was a one-day wonder eight years ago. Completely absent a few years ago, both Lesser Goldfinches and Western Screech Owls are now regular visitors. Population dynamics will continue to change. New species will continue to appear from time to time. There will always be something new to see or learn, even in my little yard, let alone the county or the state. Seen it all? Not in my lifetime.
Nala, future Birding Dog