Happy 2020 to all of you! 20-20 is perfect vision and with that, I wish you 20-20 results in seeing many beautiful birds and sights in the coming year!


There is so much to take in and see (and hear) in the days and months ahead of us. I encourage you to jot down some notes as to what date you see the first species of the year or any other special observations of birds and nature. Keeping a list of all the species of birds that you identify all year long is great fun.


Your list will take a big jump early in January and gradually grow as you spot your first pileated woodpecker or snow buntings or kestrel or horned larks or bald eagle and so on. It’s important to include the date and location on your list. You will be surprised how the list grows and how often you will refer back to it during the year and in future years. Share your list with your friends and family.


Besides watching the feeding station, we will be scouring the countryside in search of many bird species that one wouldn’t find otherwise. That might mean a drive to a larger unfrozen lake to see waterfowl, or an open country drive to search for several raptors including the possibility of finding a snowy owl or a short-eared owl. You might take a hike in a nicely wooded park in search of golden-crowned kinglets, Carolina wrens, and brown creepers. You just never know what surprises await you as you do a little exploring.


Birding and bird feeding is very entertaining and becomes even more so when you start seeing some more unusual species of birds. Now that we are in the dead of winter, seeing any birds that normally would be way down south right now is quite fun and adds a little challenge to the popular birding hobby. Often some of these surprises show up at your bird feeder if they are seed eaters or if you offer open water. One such surprise was about a week ago when Leslie and I discovered a field sparrow at the feeding station located at the former Braille Trail at Genesee County Park which is easily accessed from the Raymond Road parking lot next to the sledding hill. As you face the woods go a little to the left and follow the trail with the chain lining the trail. It’s a great place to sit and enjoy the birds at the feeding station. I recently installed a new large bird feeder there as my 20-year-old feeder needed replacing. The feeder is squirrel proof which makes for better bird feeding.


Also last week along a nearby country road, we spotted a pheasant which is rather unusual these days. Most pheasants are the result of people stocking them with hopes that they will get re-established as a breeding population. As you know, with the removal of many hedgerows over the years, and more predators present, and early mowing of hay fields pheasants have all but disappeared. But in many other states the pheasants are still very popular. I’m hoping to help restock pheasants in our area. It would be nice to do the same with bobwhite quail.


A few days ago, at dusk I heard the call of a very common summer bird that is very uncommon in winter. It was the call of an eastern towhee – formerly called rufous-sided towhee. They do like feeding stations but do just fine in the wild without them. I’m hoping this one will eventually find our feeders. They feed on the ground, just like the not-so-common often alone fox sparrow that sometimes spends the winter here. The towhee has a nice spring song and its call is a just a single syllable distinct whistle from the thickets.


So, as you explore your back yard for birds to add to your list, also be on the lookout for hawks, owls, snow buntings, horned larks, northern shrikes, eastern bluebirds, etc. in open country areas. Most bluebirds are gone for the winter, but a few small family flocks stick around and actually roost in bluebird nest boxes. Northern shrikes are robin-sized gray birds that hunt for small birds and mice in winter – being a visitor from the north for the winter months. Don’t get them mixed up with the ever-growing population of northern mockingbirds.


Keep your ears tuned for the high-pitched calls of the cedar waxwings which can suddenly show up in your yard as they enjoy eating the berries and crabapples. They are very beautiful birds and blend in nicely when they are feeding on berries.


The birding possibilities are amazing and 2020 can be a great year for you to see and identify more birds than you ever thought possible! I will be leading several birding walks and field trips in 2020 starting soon and I am keeping a list of people who want to be notified of upcoming dates. Send me a text at 585-813-2676 if you are interested. Let’s make 2020 a true “20-20 year of perfect birding!”