the Rookie Birder

I have watched birds all my life, but after reading "The Big Year," "Grail Bird" and especially Kenn Kaufman's "Kingbird Highway," plus Santa's timely stocking stuffer of "Sibley's 2003 Eastern & Western Field Guides," I made the decision to become a rookie birder beginning January 1st, 2006.

Monday, January 09, 2006

One last Colorado bird to say goodbye

Conoco Gas Station on Pena Boulevard, Denver, Colorado
near Denver International Airport

January 5th, 2006, 11am

I thought my birding was done for our Colorado trip, but I got one last easy ID when we stopped to fill up the rental car with gas at the Conoco on Pena Drive at DIA. Flitting about as only they do in such concrete urban places, I saw a host of HOUSE SPARROWS, doing what they do best, eating garbage and scraps of dropped food left by those of us in a rush to fly home. Can't miss the male (photo David Roach) black throat, rufous nape and that white wing bar. Or the females with them, especially with that yellow eye stripe. Another boring bird, but it was #14 for the year.

My expectations had been so much greater, 5 days in Colorado, surely I could do better than 14 birds. But I didn't. And then when I stopped to consider what birds I had positively IDed, they were the birds I grew up with...American Robin, Rock Dove, House Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, European Starling, Mallard Duck, Canada Goose, American Crow and the Ring-billed Gull. How pathetic.

At least I was able to spot that Bald Eagle to start my birding career on January 1st, and see the Black-billed Magpie, Stellar's Jay and the Rockie Mountain variety of the Gray Jay. Those were nice finds for a rookie birder like me. But now the Colorado trip was over, and my birding skills were going to have to be honed in Chicago for the next few months. At least there I will have my field glasses by my side!!!

#14 HOUSE SPARROW male & female


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