Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Your Yard List & Backyard Benefits

To add new birds to your Yard List you may need to try something new, like allowing an area of your lawn to produce grass seeds, which could attract different birds like a colorful male Lazuli Bunting (photo by Paul Konrad).

We birders tend to be habitual listers – record keepers – and a good Yard List is more than just a list of species; it includes dates and sexes and ages and behaviors. Yes, it’s more of a yard record. Keeping a Yard List is a great part of birding, and it’s a very useful resource that becomes more valuable over time as a reference that you can check to predict when different species will arrive, when they leave, and when to expect them as the fall season approaches.

A Yard List is pretty standard, and you may also have other lists, as most birders do: A Life List, county list, state list, national list, ABA area list, a trip list, a field day list – there is no end to the different lists some birders keep. It may be a formal list, or you may merely be relying on your memory; but if that’s the case, it’s time to up your game – and you will find keeping a Yard List becomes a fun part of your backyard birding experience.

Although a standard ledger notebook was once the usual mode for keeping birding records, including Yard Lists, today most birders keep their lists on computer files, and most of these birders keep their list records on eBird, which is the ultimate record keeper for lists of all kinds – Yard Lists included. You can even include photos and video clips as part of your eBird records.

If you prefer using your cellphone to enter sightings and other information directly, Merlin is the answer to your handheld record-keeping efforts on eBird. Merlin is simply a Free app that you can download on your cellphone, which allows you to enter new observations directly. Plus, Merlin is a great bird identification tool in case you wish to verify an I.D., or if you want to learn more about any bird you see.

Backyard Benefits

Backyard birding provides many big benefits for you: A little excitement, a little pleasure, and a sense of well-being that adds to good health. By improving your yard for birds, you improve it for yourself, your family, and your neighborhood. You will also tend to look at your property with an eye for improvements, and notice new things to add or improve little by little over time.

By providing variety and quality in our landscaping, along with a diverse selection of foods at our feeding stations complete with fresh water, your yard also becomes a great benefit to birds of many species, including neotropic migrants that may have been hard pressed to find enough habitat and food along their migration routes. Every birdscaped yard makes a difference; every tree, bush, flowering plant, food source; because collectively, from neighborhood to county, state to state, nation to nation, every bit of habitat makes a difference – every season.

Today, birders like us are making significant improvements in our suburban, urban, and rural properties that are benefiting birds that migrate across the hemisphere, but visit our yards along the way. It’s exciting to link the birds that visit your yard this fall with their nesting and wintering areas, as well as their migration stopover sites. Enjoy the birds that visit your yard, and keep working to add more birds to your Yard List while improving your yard for you, your family, your neighborhood – and for birds.

To learn more about eBird, see About eBird - eBird and you can get information about Merlin at Merlin Bird ID – Free, instant bird identification help and guide for thousands of birds – Identify the birds you see (

Share your backyard birding experiences and photographs with The Birding Wire at