Date: 11/8/19 11:07 am
From: Bill Volkert <billvolkert11...>
Subject: [wisb] Bird Picture Life List
My wife Connie and I have for many years planned our vacations around
birding in different places. In addition to searching for birds we always
enjoy taking pictures of any birds or other animals that will sit still
long enough. Of course, we also take pictures of mammals, reptiles as well
as some butterflies, flowers and landscapes but birds has been our main
objective. Over the years I have accumulated several hundred thousand
pictures and have recently found a need to catalog these since I just don't
remember everything we have taken pictures of.
Going through only my digital picture collection I have now totaled 1300
species of birds that I have photographed over the years. Of course, they
are not all worthy of National Geographic but there are a few good ones
among the collection. While I certainly like a well composed picture or
capturing some interesting behavior, my primary goal has been to document
what I have seen. Now I have decided to sort through my digital picture
collection so I know what I have. There also are a number of other birds
that I have photographed as slides in the past and I have some 80,000
slides but don't plan to go through all of those any time soon.

From this I have come to realize that on some of our birding trips we have
seen so many species of birds that after a while it is hard to remember
them all. In particular, a morning spent at a hummingbird feeding station
often times results in sighting 8 to 12 species, not to mention the great
variety of flycatchers to be found in tropical America. Over the years I
have seen just over 160 species of hummingbirds and it is hard to remember
the names and field marks of them all. I am usually fairly good with bird
names but over time I am surprised how many I need to look up again.

When we took our around-the-world trip I began to realize after the first
10 weeks or so that we had already seen a lot of birds and many mammals in
Southern Africa and Madagascar. With some six months to go I knew that I
would never remember them all so I began to write a picture reference list
as I was downloading our pictures periodically. This consisted of simply
writing down the picture file number and bird or mammal I took pictures
of. In other words, in one column I would write something like picture #
1501 - 1520 and next to that the species in the pictures. It took a lot of
time every few days to do this but in the end we took 35,000 pictures of
hundreds of birds and and mammals. Now I wish I had been doing that for
all of our trips over the years.

At least this is now a good use of my time considering the early winter
weather. So as one of my winter projects I have been going through my
wildlife pictures from all of our travels and cataloging them in the same
way for each trip. I find that for many birds I am having to check the
date the picture was taken, check that against my trip checklist to see
what similar birds we had sighted on that particular day, and sometimes
confirming them in a field guide. It also turns out that there are a
number of birds that I have such vivid memories of that I could swear that
I have photos but as it turns out they were nothing more than very
memorable experiences.

At this time I am nearly done with this project and have only 6 trips and
something like 15,000 pictures to go through. I did scan them briefly to
see what bird species I may yet add to my bird picture life list and it
appears that I will end up with just over 1300 species, or nearly 1/3 of
all of the birds I have seen. For me, collecting pictures of birds is
simply a hobby and I don't use them in any other way than for our own
enjoyment to remember our travel experiences and also use some of these in
my presentations.

I also find it interesting that while I make an effort to capture pictures
of the rare and colorful birds we encounter, I often times haven't taken
time to get a picture of the most common species. I guess it is similar to
home where I have pictures of warblers, flycatcher, vireos, waterfowl and
birds of prey but don't have many of robins, crows and a few other common
species. I tend to think that I can get them at any time so I put this off
and then come winter find that I don't have many pictures of a robin or

In our travels I have come to see that birding and bird photography today
is a worldwide endeavor. I used to think of this as something that only
Americans and a few Europeans enjoyed but I have seen that there are people
from all corners of the world that seek birds in nearly all of the wild
places and like many of us pursue a life list or a great picture. My hope
is that all of them will support wildlife conservation efforts in order to
protect what we all enjoy and value.

FdL Co
Bill Volkert

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