Friday, May 7, 2010

April 2010 – A BIGBY month in review

(What's a BIGBY? See:

I recorded 108 species within walking distance of home during the month of April, the bulk of those species being on or adjacent to the Indiana University cross country (XC) course. For a list of these 108 species, see my blog post at:

I averaged seeing/hearing 39.5 species per day over the course of the month. My lowest species count was 28 species on April 8. My highest count was 54 species on April 1, which seems sort of counter-intuitive since migratory activity increases over the month. During April, I added 40 new walking BIGBY species to my BIGBY list for 2010. For a list of those 40 new BIGBY species, see my blog post at:

Here are some BIGBY highlights from April:

* As the month began, I set a goal of trying to beat my personal record for earliest date to reach 100 BIGBY species in a given year. My previous record for earliest date to 100 BIGBY species was April 29 (2009). This year I recorded my 100th BIGBY species of the year on April 16, beating my old record by nearly two weeks! If you’re curious to know what the 100th species was, see:
* Wild Turkey – heard gobbling off in the woods on a crisp clear spring morning. One of my favorite sounds in the birding world. And it always reminds me of the two years I spent following an urban Wild Turkey flock (see:
* Bald Eagle – not a first-of-year bird in April, and not entirely uncommon here in southern Indiana, but a rare bird for the IU XC course, and always a treat to see there (or anywhere).
* Osprey – I only see these birds maybe once a year, so it was really cool to see two of them in the same month!
* Merlin – another very occasional raptor visitor.
* Peregrine Falcon – not a first-of-year bird but it’s still pretty neat to see one soaring over the XC course. Two sightings in April!!
* Great Crested Flycatcher – these birds are relatively common on the XC course in the summer, but I eagerly await their calls each spring. I usually spend a couple of weeks hearing towhee calls and thinking I’ve found my first bird. But eventually the real deal comes around and I find myself wondering how I could ever have thought a towhee sounds like a Great Crested Flycatcher. :-)
* Eastern Kingbird – another bird I eagerly wait for each spring!
* Five vireo species.
* Horned Lark – a rare visitor to the XC course.
* Eighteen warbler species.
* Eleven sparrow species, including Savannah, Grasshopper, and Henslow’s.
* Rusty Blackbird – an uncommon bird on the XC course. Four birds seen during the first week of the month.
* And last, but not least, I saw what will probably be my last-of-season Dark-eyed Junco on April 29!! That's more than three weeks past the departure date for this species here, but nowhere near the record late date (June 10).

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