I announced I was doing an American Birding Association Big Year on January 1st. Shortly thereafter, Tim Avery with MWBirdCo contacted me and told me “I’m your man in Utah.” Boy, was he ever!
I came to Park City, Utah to meet 2 of my best friends for a short vacation from birding. I have neglected my friends this year completely. A Big Year is all-consuming and friendship takes a back seat. Nevertheless, Nannette Staropoli and Fatima Khokhar have cheered me on from the sidelines, never complaining. In fact, Nannette designed my blog and my logo out of sheer love.
I promised them that if they met me in some city that I wouldn’t go birding while they were there. I almost kept that promise.
Tim had contacted me and let me know that he’d found a Flammulated Owl and a fledgling and that they were a half hour away from our hotel. I rallied the girls and we decided that on our last night, we would go Owling in the hopes of finding a bird together.
I pulled out my Sibley and Fatima soaked in the field marks and studied the bird. Meanwhile, Nannette was on a ridiculous run up the mountain. She returned to inform us that she’d seen a Coyote and a bird that she couldn’t identify. She’d managed to get a cell phone picture. Lo and behold, she’d seen a Ruffed Grouse!
Tim came to pick us up after 8 and we embarked on our adventure. Our first foray into the woods, we came up empty at the site where Tim had seen the birds earlier in the week.
Although we were disappointed, we were also happy to see that the Owl baby had successfully fledged. We tried a couple more spots and then we heard one! We climbed up a hillside and after a few minutes Tim was able to locate them. What a thrill!!
We had brief but extremely satisfying looks at this elusive bird. There was pure joy in the faces of my friends who had never experienced anything like this.
The ability to expose anyone to the joys of birding is so gratifying but to have shared this moment with my friends bonded us in a different way.
My friends understand what this is all about now.
A huge thank you to Tim Avery for providing us with this moment that we will treasure forever.
I now have 705 species plus 2 provisionals. A provisional bird is a bird that was not on the American Birding Association’s checklist at the beginning of 2017 because they were a new species to the ABA area. These species await approval by the State Records Committees and ABA Checklist Committee.