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Why Keep A Year List

Happy New Year! That joyous exclamation means a fresh start for many birders. Those of us that keep a year list of species we have seen get to start over and see if we can do better than the last year. Often people get all excited for one person particularly big year where they saw over 700 species in the United States or over 300 in Montana. Some truly remarkable years include people who see more than half of the world’s birds in a single year.

While certainly impressive these kinds of lists are not something most of us will achieve. This does not mean that a birder should not keep a year list. To the contrary I think that keeping a year list helps make the best birders. The reason is simple some species take some work to find and without some motivation there are many species a birder won’t just come across. As an example there are about 30 species on birds in Montana that can only be found in two or three counties. These birds are findable if you make the trip, but you must go do it. Other species like Northern Pygmy Owl, Great Gray Owl, or Greater Sage Grouse can be easy to find if you know where to go but learning where to go often takes a fair amount of exploring. If you go out looking every year these species get a lot easier to find.

So as 2020 begins I encourage you keep track of the birds you see and see if you can build your list. Don’t compare yourself to other birders around you, compete with yourself try and beat last years number. It can push you to explore your area a bit more and it will make you an even better birder.

If you would like to be shown a few of these more difficult birds in Montana you can reach us at 406-691-0368 or at to schedule your own Montana bird tour.

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