I love living in a place where all sorts of incredible wildlife is within a short drive. What's even better is living in a place where I don't have to drive at all to see it.
With bushy shrubs, an array of feeders and a birdbath strategically placed just outside our breakfast nook window, my wife and I can witness a dozen or more bird species in a single day — with squirrels, possums, deer and raccoons mixed in for good measure.
On New Year's Day 2014, we began cataloguing the bird species that appeared in our yard. The rules were simple —anything that alighted on our property or flew directly overhead counts. We racked up 26 species in the first two months and ended 2015 with 36 birds jotted on a small, yellow pad on our kitchen counter. I often kept my camera at the ready on the table, just in case something new dropped by.
In 2015, we resolved not only to continue the count, but to do a better job of counting population numbers. (Though we had tallied nearly three-quarters of the years' species by February, there was no noticeable decline in overall numbers.) My wife also got me a great Christmas present — a GoPro Hero 4 — so I'll be playing around with it, too.
Here's my 2014 bird list, with the date new species were recorded.
Jan. 3: tufted titmouse; downy woodpecker; ruby-crowned kinglet; Carolina chickadee; chipping sparrow; yellow-bellied sapsucker; northern Cardinal; pine warbler; yellow-throated warbler; white-breasted nuthatch; house finch; mourning dove; Carolina wren; eastern bluebird; eastern phoebe.
Jan. 11: white-throated sparrow; American goldfinch; yellow-rumped warbler.
Jan. 12: brown-headed nuthatch; blue jay.
Jan. 18: red-bellied woodpecker.
Jan. 20: hermit thrush.
Jan. 28: eastern towhee.
Jan. 31: black and white warbler.
Feb. 5: dark-eyed junco.
March 30: ruby-throated hummingbird; blue-gray gnatcatcher.
April 5: red-tailed hawk.
April 13: blue grosbeak.
May 23: painted bunting (female).
May 25: summer tanager (female).
May 30: great crested flycatcher.
June 1: American crow.
July 4: pileated woodpecker; Mississippi kite.
Nov. 14: Northern mockingbird.
Follow Audience Engagement Editor Jeff Kidd on Twitter at twitter.com/InsidePages.