The beginning of a new year is a great time to start a list, but unlike the one you just made and checked twice (for gifts)…this one is of birds!  Most everyone has a collection of something, which is fun to look through and add to over the years.  What about “collecting” birds, in a literal sense?  Birders enjoy keeping track of the birds they have seen, a hobby for some and competitive sport for others.  But for many this effort is part of a global citizen science project, with more than 100,000 people a year contributing data on bird populations through the eBird website or phone app.  If you are a beginning birdwatcher, you can start with making a list of the birds you see in your yard, then graduate to your county or state.  Serious birders work on filling in the blanks on their American Birding Association (ABA) Checklist, which includes a total of 1,112 ABA-area species (http://listing.aba.org/aba-checklist/).  Then there are the highly motivated (aka obsessed) birders who start a “Big Year” on the first day of January.  But since “listing” can consume both free time and financial resources, it’s fine to just keep track of the birds you see for the entertainment and learning opportunity.

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