4th of July Birding Challenge!

2015 will be year 3 of the 4th of July Birding Challenge, and I have to say this year is a special one for your lovely author. I just got back from 5 months of studying birds in Borneo, and while my experiences and birding over in Southeast Asia were truly unforgettable, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the good ol’ USA dearly. Also, I missed North American birds. Even the common residents which we often take for granted; chickadees, cardinals, goldfinches…you would never suspect such garden-variety birds to invoke such nostalgia, but then again the British never expected George Washington to kick some serious ass in 1776.

And thus, as another Independence Day approaches, we at Nemesisbird will celebrate with the 4th of July Birding Challenge. So grab some apple pie, put on some Bruce Springsteen, and go out and see some breeding birds! Remember, this challenge is all about getting folks out birding in the summer/breeding season and solely for fun. Check your favorite patch, eBird hotspot, or even just your yard while barbecuing for 30 minutes. You’ll be surprised what avian patriots are hanging around. Here is a refresher of the rules:


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.

BE SURE TO POST YOUR TOTALS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. Last year’s champ was Bryant Atanasio of Centre County Pennsylvania (a county dear to the hearts of many Nemesisbirders). He had 13 patriotic species, beating 2013’s record of 12. Can someone hit 14 in one day? Don’t forget to post total species for the day as well, even if you didn’t get a bunch of ‘American’ species. Most of all, have fun with it.

Here is the list of the 58 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 (not ABA), Blue Hen Chicken, and Rhode Island Red Chicken.

Group of American Avocets, DE. Photo by Steve Brenner

Group of American Avocets, DE. Photo by Steve Brenner

  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
  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)
  29. Connecticut Warbler
  30. Florida Scrub Jay
  31. Hawaiian Petrel
  32. Kentucky Warbler
  33. Louisiana Waterthrush
  34. Mississippi Kite
  35. Tennessee Warbler
  36. Virginia Rail
  37. Bald Eagle
  38. Wild Turkey
  39. Northern Flicker (AL)
  40. Willow Ptarmigan (AK)
  41. Cactus Wren (AZ)
  42. Northern Mockingbird (AR, FL, MS, TN, and TX)
  43. Lark Bunting (CO)
  44. Brown Thrasher (GA)
  45. Mountain Bluebird (ID, NV)
  46. Northern Cardinal (IL, IN, KY, NC, OH, VI, and WV)
  47. Western Meadowlark (KS, MT, NE, ND, OR, and WY)
  48. Brown Pelican (LA)
  49. Black-capped Chickadee (ME, MA)
  50. Baltimore Oriole (MD)
  51. Common Loon (MN)
  52. Eastern Bluebird (MO, NY)
  53. Purple Finch (NH)
  54. Greater Roadrunner (NM)
  55. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (OK)
  56. Ruffed Grouse (PA)
  57. Ring-necked Pheasant (SD)
  58. Hermit Thrush (VT)