"Century birds" are important milestones in a birding life, a sign of skills achieved, knowledge learned and experiences enjoyed--and the promise of more to come.
Warren got his 400th bird in the American Birding Association Checklist Area on Saturday at Deep Creek Lake State Park, Maryland.
The bird(s) in question were a lovely flock of 70 or so Pine Siskins, flitting noisily from oak trees to pines, where they seemed to be feasting on seeds in pine cones. Pine Siskins are in the finch family, and are quite gregarious, making this crazy zzzzzhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeee sound, as well as lots of other noisy chatter. They spend spring and summer in the forests of Canada and the northern U.S., and drop down our way in fall and winter, in irregular numbers. They can be everywhere some winters, and nearly impossible to find the next.
And they can be hard to photograph.
400 birds in North America is a pretty good haul--the mark of a serious birder, and one who has spent some time (and money) on the road to different regions of the continent. 500 is a goal many never attain. 600 puts you in the elite. 700 is, if not quite Mount Olympus, somewhere close. 800 was once thought impossible, but there are now a half-dozen or so birders who claim that figure, according to Surfbirds.
There's no direct relationship between these #s (the birds don't care!!) and birding skill, ornithological knowledge or commitement to conservation, of course. They are what they are: a measure of time and dedication in the field. And a bit of luck.
Here, for the heck of it, are Warren's "century birds." And Lisa, of course, is hot on my trail..
100: Red-Eyed Vireo, Jug Bay, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, May 6, 1992.
200: Purple Sandpiper, Ocean City, Maryland, February 14, 2004.
300: Semipalmated Sandpiper, Brigantine NWR, New Jersey, May 15, 2005.
400: Pine Siskin, Deep Creek Lake State Park, Maryland, October 18, 2008.
Birdcouple was birding together for #s 200, 300 and 400. Wouldn't have it any other way. Good birding, all.
Coming soon: Illustration chosen for next year's "Duck Stamp"