May 09, 2006

Rogers Hornsby, here I come

100 lark sparrow
101 eastern kingbird
102 dickcissel
103 great-tailed grackle
104 sandhill crane
105 red-headed woodpecker
106 spotted sandpiper
107 least sandpiper

MAY 8, EAGLE BLUFFS, mostly cloudy, 65—I'm now only 607 behind Babe Ruth, without the aid of ornithological steroids. On a banner day for little-big-year birders, I reached and broke 100 with three new birds—lark sparrow, kingbird, dickcissel—within five minutes in the fields next to Eagle Bluff's wetland pools.

The great-tailed grackle may be my best find of the year. Well-named, the tail is so enormous that at first the grackle looked like two blackbirds fighting. Near the grackle, a solitary sandhill crane foraged in the company of a few Canada geese. It may be the same individual who hung out with large snow goose flocks here in winter. (Audubon's sandhill painting is from his later, smaller, and less expensive octavo edition. I'm not sure if the images are public domain.)

Other notables of the day included a soaring bald eagle, which should always make a highlight list, several kingfishers zipping low over the water or perching next to it, and six Canada goose goslings (Canada goslings?) parading to the water in front of their parents. A hoarse cluck from some cattails had all the earmarks of a rail, but I couldn't identify it.

With all the talk of Barry Bonds and the Babe, and my ascendancy to 100 species, I noticed Hank Aaron's (755) and Babe Ruth's (714) home-run totals are in the ballpark of the North American Big Year birding record, Sandy Komito's 745. Given these comparable numbers, if I reached 300 for the year, would that put me on par with baseball players with around 300 career homers? Since that group includes Rickey Henderson, Andruw Jones, Rogers Hornsby, Shawn Green, and Vladimir Guerrero, I'd say definitely not. The Henderson or Hornsby of birding would have about 650 Big Year birds.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're waiting for the World Cup correlation...

Blogger Jeff said...

Good idea. I'll get to it as soon as I can tear myself away from the games and do some serious birding.


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