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Extreme Backyard Birding

posted by Tim Avery at
on Saturday, April 16, 2011 

Welcome to the newest craze in backyard birding--extreme backyard birding. That's right, its the new way to add species to that yard list when you think you've just about seen everything you can see! It's not for everyone, and it's not the kind of birding where you get great looks at the birds. It's extreme!

Okay, in all seriousness I decided to see if I could pick up a few yard birds today by setting my scope up on my deck and pointing it at the mountains just over a mile from our house near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County. Here is a diagram of the situation:

I thought I might be able to see a few large raptors at the distance. The closest point of the mountains is at the entrance to Bell Canyon about 1 1/3 miles away. The ridge lines average closer to 2 miles away, and as they go south end up being 3 to 3 1/2 miles away. To the naked eye it looks like this:

So with scope set up, Jerry Liguori's Hawks at a Distance in hand, cup of Coke, and my binoculars I started looking. It didn't take long to realize I could pick out birds with my binoculars. They were specks at a distance, but through the scope I could ID most of them without much trouble. Here is what it looked like at 20x on ridge 2 miles out:

Not bad eh? Well along with scanning the ridges I started scanning the skies above the house--what a payday that was. Over the mountains I saw a handful of raptors, including Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, and Peregrine Falcon. Closer to the house I picked up a flock of White-throated Swifts, then a flock of Violet-green Swallows. Before the afternoon was over I had added 5 new yards birds to our list.

It was great to find out that I could do this kind of birding from the house, and knowing that there were quite a few birds I could add this way that I haven't seen at the house yet. Next step, explaining to the neighbors that I am not a peeping Tom (or Tim), and that yes, I am looking at birds up there in the air,where no one else is looking!

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Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Your gonna have a bigger yard list than me soon...161 and counting! And that's casual, with the time you are going to put in, your list will grow quickly. Great view from the yard.

Its great to see my book at use, and pimp it as much as you want! I'll have to come over for some distant hawk watching, ya got coffee?

April 17, 2011 at 7:42 AM  
Anonymous Adam said...

Working on something similar in Centerville. Extreme backyarding, stay tuned.

July 27, 2016 at 1:24 PM  

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