4th of July Birding Challenge!

Do you love America? Are you a warm-blooded patriot looking for a way to enjoy your freedoms? Do you love birds? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then you qualify for the –

“Thermal Birding 4th of July Birding Challenge: ‘Merica Addition!”

American Avocet – photo by Steve Brenner

One week from today, people all across the country will be having cookouts, launching fireworks, and birdwatching! The rules of the challenge are simple: when you are out birding on the 4th of July, every species you see that begins with the word “American” counts. Also, any species that begins with the name of a U.S. state (e.g.. California Towhee) also counts. You can also collect bonus birds for each of the following winged-countrymen you spot: Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey, and the official birds of each U.S. state. So, for example, let’s say I go out on Independence Day and see an American Robin, 5 American Crows, 3 American Redstarts, a Louisiana Waterthrush, a Bald Eagle, and a pair of Eastern Bluebirds, then I would have a grand total of 6 countable species. So it’s fairly straight-forward and similar to other ‘big day’ type competitions. Feeling patriotic yet?

As with all birding competitions, this is solely meant for the purposes of fun, and as long as you have a good time birding, that’s what really matters. Also, mid-summer can be a very slow time for bird watching, so this provides an excellent opportunity for birders to get out there and check out some breeding birds in your area or scour those neglected local hotspots. Please post replies on how you faired with the challenge, and try to nab as many of these species as you can. Remember, Thomas Jefferson may have spent all day inside on July 4th, 1776, but that doesn’t mean you should! So get out there and bird, people . . . USA, USA, USA!

Here is the list of the 57 eligible ‘4th of July birds’ for counting in the ABA area, including the official birds of each state. (Note: ‘state game birds’ have been omitted, as has Hawaiian Goose, Blue Hen Chicken, and Rhode Island Red Chicken).

  1. American Avocet
  2. American Bittern
  3. American Black Duck
  4. American Coot
  5. American Crow
  6. American Dipper
  7. American Flamingo
  8. American Golden-Plover
  9. American Goldfinch (also state bird for IA, NJ, and WA)
  10. American Kestrel

    ‘Merica Kestrel – photo by Steve Brenner

  11. American Oystercatcher
  12. American Pipit
  13. American Redstart
  14. American Robin (also state bird for CT, MI, and WI)
  15. American Three-toed Woodpecker
  16. American Tree Sparrow
  17. American White Pelican
  18. American Wigeon
  19. American Woodcock
  20. Arizona Woodpecker
  21. California Condor
  22. California Gnatcatcher
  23. California Quail (also state bird for CA)
  24. California Thrasher
  25. California Towhee
  26. California Gull (also state bird for UT)
  27. Carolina Chickadee
  28. Carolina Wren (also state bird for SC)

    Carolina Wren – photo by Steve Brenner

  29. Connecticut Warbler
  30. Florida Scrub Jay
  31. Kentucky Warbler
  32. Louisiana Waterthrush
  33. Mississippi Kite
  34. Tennessee Warbler
  35. Virginia Rail
  36. Bald Eagle
  37. Wild Turkey
  38. Northern Flicker (AL)
  39. Willow Ptarmigan (AK)
  40. Cactus Wren (AZ)
  41. Northern Mockingbird (AR, FL, MS, TN, and TX)
  42. Lark Bunting (CO)
  43. Brown Thrasher (GA)

    Brown Thrasher – photo by Steve Brenner

  44. Mountain Bluebird (ID, NV)
  45. Northern Cardinal (IL, IN, KY, NC, OH, VI, and WV)
  46. Western Meadowlark (KS, MT, NE, ND, OR, and WY)
  47. Brown Pelican (LA)
  48. Black-capped Chickadee (ME, MA)
  49. Baltimore Oriole (MD)
  50. Common Loon (MN)
  51. Eastern Bluebird (MO, NY)
  52. Purple Finch (NH)
  53. Greater Roadrunner (NM)
  54. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (OK)
  55. Ruffed Grouse (PA)
  56. Ring-necked Pheasant (SD)
  57. Hermit Thrush (VT)

Photo Study – Why do crows attack Red-tailed Hawks?

Why do crows attack Red-tailed Hawks? I don’t know, but it sure is fun to watch! Here are some photos I took today of a few American Crows attacking a Red-tailed Hawk while my girlfriend and I were taking the dog for a walk.