Hello, this is your
friendly neighborhood Avian Care Intern Ashely Adams! I’m so excited to be working here. I recently graduated from Michigan State with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. As you may have guessed, I’m quite a fan of birds. In fact, I’m a birder and am pretty excited for the upcoming fall.
Yes, believe it or not, fall migration season will be on us soon! With that said, there couldn’t be a better time to start your birding adventure. Understandably, new birders may find themselves a bit overwhelmed by all the new information they have to absorb, one of the things being a whole flock of new terms to learn. Never fear though, I’ve got your back with these handy birder lingo tips.
Life List: Basically this term is what it says on the tin. Many birders keep track of all the birds they see. The particularly dedicated will keep multiple lists such as overall life list, year list, county/state list, etc.
Lifer: A bird you are adding to your life list, so essentially the first time you see a certain bird species. All lifers are special, whether it be your first bluebird or Whooping Crane.
Big Year, Big Day, and other variations: A competition to get as many birds in a certain amount of time. There are several Big Day competitions hosted around the country, usually limited to a smaller geographical range (i.e.: county). Big Years, however, are usually done over a larger area, sometimes over the whole country. Most of these competitions are informal; with the reward being bragging rights and all the mileage you racked up during the time.
Dipped: You missed out on your target bird for a trip.
Typical Birding Conversation: “See it’s in that tree! You know, look down at the branch, next to the bush. No, not that bus. The one to the left. No, my left.”
Pishing: Much like the birds we pursue, birders are known for their strange noises. Birders will often try to replicate the alarm sounds of chickadees and titmice by making a “pish” sound. Success varies, but hilarity at watching the act never does.
Fallout: A moment birders dream of. On occasions, some sort of weather phenomenon will push a large group of birds to land in an area, often times during migration. These are days when someone has the potential to catch 100+ species of birds in a day.
Warbler Neck: There’s a decent chance you will be spending your day peering up into the trees, craning your neck back farther than you knew it could. As you can imagine, this can leave you pretty sore, but no pain no gain in the birding world.
Little Brown Job (LBJ): I think I saw a song sparrow? Or maybe it was a female house finch? Yes, there is a whole class of birds that are unremarkably drab and brown that fall under this category.
This, of course, is only a taste of the wide, beautiful world of birding. Hopefully, this will at least give you a start unraveling the unique dialogue of the birder. Want to know what birds are here at the Sanctuary? We’ve got our eBird tracker up and running in the bookstore to give you up-to-date information on birds seen here at KBS, as well as report your own findings. You can also report and check reports on the eBird website. And, of course, happy birding!
To look for reports and submit your own observations:
A great webpage for birding IDing and other tips:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds
More about birding, including code of ethics:
American Birding Association