5 to 500

Every avid lister knows the life list benchmarks. When you start birding you are learning the fundamentals, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking about hitting 100, 200, and 300 life birds. I’ve been birding, listing, and eBirding for about five years now and have tallied almost 500 life birds. Hell, I observed 439 species in 2013 (a new personal year record). I’ve really only birded the southwest and the northeast. Outside of that, I birded Nebraska hard for a week. Anyway, according to eBird, I’ve seen 495 species of birds, all in the lower 48. I’m going to try and predict my next five lifers, starting with the most obvious.

1. Yellow-throated Warbler – one of my most wanted birds. A common breeder throughout Delaware and should be a piece of cake to nail in early April.

Yellow-throated Warbler. Photo by Alex Lamoreaux.

Yellow-throated Warbler. Photo by Alex Lamoreaux.

2. Kentucky Warbler – an uncommon, but local breeder in Delaware. Kentucky Warblers are known breeders in White Clay Creek State Park, so I just have to track down a singing male.

3. Chuck-will’s-widow – a relatively common breeder in southern Delaware. Premier breeding locations near Milford. This shouldn’t be too difficult as a heard-only lifer.

4. King Rail – apparent breeder in freshwater marshes in New Castle County, Delaware. I need to dig out the mosquito net this spring.

5. Little Gull – uncommon, but annual migrant in Maryland and Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River. Right time and place and this should be no problem.

Other possibilities in no particular order: Alder Flycatcher (extremely uncommon migrants in the Delaware), Tufted Duck (relatively common vagrant/rarity in the northeast and mid-Atlantic), Common Murre (I could chase one in New Jersey next weekend), Curlew Sandpiper (annual spring migrants in New Jersey)

And there you have it. What do you think?