The tradition in birding circles is to get out on New Year’s Day and get the year list started while others are sleeping late after ringing in the change on the calendar. I decided to try to start my year list a little differently. I was doing a 5K race called the Polar Dash along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and thought I might get a good jump on this years list during the run until I woke up to 2 degrees Fahrenheit and winds out of the north with gusts at 30+ mph. I knew it wasn’t going to be a very “birdy” day. The first bird of the year was easy, a White-breasted Nuthatch at a feeder in my yard. The next three were seen from a car. On the way to the race I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk over the road fighting the wind, a Bald Eagle soaring over a frozen Long Meadow Lake and the ubiquitous Rock Pigeon hanging out under several bridges along the highway. As I got close to the race start line I saw a half dozen American Crows flying by and hoped as I ran along the river I would see more birds. Just to show that birding doesn’t always (or ever!) go the way you expect, the only birds I picked up during the race were some Canada Geese flying down the mostly frozen river. Pretty disappointing considering the cold feet, slippery road, frozen cheeks and 3.1 miles covered. Got home to a couple more easy “ticks” with Black-capped Chickadees and an American Goldfinch chowing down on black oiler sunflower seeds while being buffeted by the wind.
So on a cold and windy first day of the year my list is at 8 species and if tomorrow warms up I’ll try to add to it, except I think I’ll walk.Share on Facebook