The first ever RVAS Great Fall Migration Yard Big Sit on September 19, 2020 was a success. While in person field trips have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, nine yards participated in a 24-hour big day from the convenience of their own yards. While enjoying the birds in my yard, it wasn’t lost on me how fortunate I am to still have a nice place to live and, I want to send out my sincere condolences to everyone in our community that has been affected by the recent fires.

I also want to thank everyone who participated, especially to those of you who stuck it out with small yards. This was obviously not a fair contest given that some folks live on several acres and some live on a little lot in town, but interesting sightings happened even in the small yards. Despite having small yards in town, Sooney Viani was the only birder to get a Red-shouldered Hawk and Linda Kreisman was the only one to detect a Black-headed Grosbeak.

Karl Shneck’s land on N. Valley View Rd. was officially the Best Yard of the day with an impressive 45 species. This despite having to stop mid-day due to injury after being startled by a flushed Barn Owl! Frank Lospalluto came in second place with 37, and I was third place with 30 species from my yard on Liberty St. in Ashland.

In total we detected 86 species! Not bad for being confined to our yards. Interestingly, Band-tailed Pigeon was the most numerous bird of the day (thanks to Laura Fleming detecting 75 in her yard!) followed by Lesser Goldfinch. The great thing about birding this time of year is that you never know what might turn up, and it was really interesting to see how the species composition varied between yards. Some winter migrants that are common around my house later in the fall, like Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxwing, and Golden-crowned Sparrow never showed up but were found in other yards.

Full results can be viewed here.

Personally, I really enjoyed having an excuse to ignore the rest of the world and slow down and focus on birds all day. My afternoon was pretty slow, but I had some good migrants pass through in the morning. My favorite sighting of the day was a Townsend’s Warbler right at first light. I also added Pileated Woodpecker as the 77th bird species that my wife and I have detected in our yard since moving in last August. I have found that birding in my yard has been a great way to reduce anxiety and pass the time at home during the last several months, and I encourage all of our Rogue Valley bird lovers to keep an eye on the bushes, trees, ground, and sky outside your windows. Bird migration is the greatest show on earth, and a good yard is a front row seat.


Happy birding, Nate Trimble