A New Type of Life List

By josh • Nature, Wildlife • 13 Nov 2015

Inspired by this very thoughtful post by Ken Schneider (several years old now), awhile ago I decided to start keeping a “life list” of birds I’ve photographed.  Like Ken, I have a compulsion to record things with a camera whether they really need to be recorded or not, and trying to create things that are beautiful or interesting or poignant is a rare creative outlet in my busy life.

Photographing birds has also helped my identification skills immeasurably.  I am now much more likely to spend time looking closely at a common species that I would have formerly passed over at a glance.  I’ve learned much about the field marks and “giss” of our local birds and have occasionally found unusual species because something didn’t look quite right about one bird in a group.  I’ve also learned much about behavior as I’ve tried to anticipate when a bird might create a dynamic photo opportunity.

Some of these images are likely to be decent (including some that have already featured on this blog) and others certainly will be terrible (like most of the warbler photos- gah!).  This will, I hope, compel me to photograph species I might otherwise ignore, and I’ll strive to improve upon species for which I do not have a satisfactory image.

I plan to keep them organized by family on Flickr. As I take more photos I’ll replace the poorer images, though for some species for which I have many photos (yard birds, say) my “best image” will be pretty subjective and is unlikely to change unless I capture something spectacular. I’ll put a link to the index in the menu bar at the top of this page.

This should be a fun exercise, and I’m looking forward to digging through some old photos- I know there are some floating around that are better than some of those I’ve uploaded so far. So far I’m finding that I’ve totally missed getting good images of many birds that I see on a regular basis. Bald Eagle! Green-winged Teal! Even Canada Goose and European Starling!

Here’s the index of families.

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