More than halfway to my goal of 100 yard birds in 2015


I would love to add Yellow-crowned Night-Heron to my yard list. Great Blue Herons, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Green Herons and Great Egrets have visited the creek and fish pond at my home, but I’ve never had a visit from a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. I photographed this pair on a nest along the Watauga River on Blevins Road.

On April 19, a singing male Black-throated Green Warbler became the 50th bird species to make an appearance in my yard this year.

Back at the start of this year, I considered trying for another “big year” in the five-county area of Northeast Tennessee that consists of the counties of Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington.

However, such an undertaking requires a lot of travel and expense, as well as an immense dedication of time. After a 2014 marked by many personal upsets, I didn’t feel capable of making an attempt. Considering I last undertook a “big year” effort back in 2013, I felt it was too soon for me to try this again.


The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, an early bird among spring migrants, arrived on Easter Sunday, April 5, this year. It was Bird No. 42 on my yard list for 2015.

Instead, I’ve focused my attention on the birds that come calling to my yard, fish pond, the creek and the surrounding woodlands. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed some amazing visitors from a variety of feathered friends.

It was an amazing winter, with large flocks of Purple Finches and Pine Siskins at my feeders. In fact, these two species remain present even as the calendar moves closer to May. In fact, I saw a Pine Siskin at the feeders on Saturday, April 25.


My favorite warbler, the Hooded Warbler, returned this spring on April 13. The males are currently singing daily from rhododendron thickets in the woodlands around my home.

As is usually the case here at my Simerly Creek home in Hampton, spring migration is proceeding at a slow pace. For some reason, the fall migration is a more “birdy” time. So, any bird I miss seeing this spring, I will hope to pick up while I continue looking for yard birds this autumn.


A pair of Wood Ducks visited the pond on a recent rainy morning. Until a decade ago, Wood Ducks were regular spring visitors. For some reason, they have become much more sporadic in their visits over the past 10 years.

Of course, there have been a few spring surprises, including a pair of Wood Ducks that showed up at the fish pond on a rainy morning on Sunday, April 19. Several of the resident warblers have also arrived, including Hooded Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler and Ovenbird.

As of the time of my sitting down to post this blog entry, I’ve found 52 species in my yard so far this year.

The most recent sightings have been a Wood Thrush (No. 52) and a Northern Parula (No. 53) on my list. These two species showed up on April 20 and April 21, respectively.


I have been birding for more than 20 years, but in that time I have only had one Eastern Kingbird visit my yard. Will the second kingbird pay a visit at some point in 2015?

So, wish me luck as I continue this more modest undertaking. Let’s call it a “Big Yard Year.” I am hopeful that I can find 100 species in my yard before Dec. 31. I’ll continue you update occasionally here on my weekly blog.





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