The Eastern Bluebirds seen in our yard Friday brought our list of birds seen here to 110. We count birds seen on or from our property. That gives us, for instance, Common Loon, a fly-over that would be a huge surprise if it landed here. In our first year as residents in this house, from March to December, the list jumped to 90; everything we saw here was new. Things slow way down very quickly . We added two species in 2009, none in 2010, and one last year. I guess I could say we're already having a good 2012.

I keep two other lists: North American lifers and species of which I have photos that allow positive identification. I once kept lists for several counties in Minnesota and for several states. The price of gasoline and the feeling that I no longer cared how many species I've seen in, say, Carver County, closed those down. In regard to gasoline, in recent years you see more and more "green" lists -- birds seen while walking or biking. Some birders report lists of over 200 species found simply by walks in their neighborhoods. "Patch" birding also is growing. A patch is a favorite and productive spot near your home that you visit regularly. Regular visits throughout the year, during migration in particular, can produce surprisingly long lists. Try it.

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