Humboldt County Dream Birds Redux

(originally published in Sandpiper May 2002)

Ken Irwin found a White-eyed Vireo at Elk Head on June 10, 2001. He followed up this feat by locating a Common Greenshank in the Mad River estuary on August 27. Both species represented first county records for Humboldt, which got me to thinking. “Wouldn’t it be fun to try to predict which other species are likely candidates for the next additions to the county checklist.” Then, I recalled that others, including Gary Lester and John Sterling, had explored this topic. To update their work, I polled several of the county’s most avid birders to get their guesses for the next five additions to the Humboldt list.

First, with the gracious permission of Gary Lester, is reprinted his June 1988 Sandpiper article.

HumCo Dream Bird List

The Humboldt County bird checklist currently has just over 400 species listed. This total is the sum result of more than 100 years of ornithological observations and birding. It may seem surprising that there could be any more species to add to the list; with a solid 100 years under our collective belts, surely all the birds have been seen that will ever occur in Humboldt County! Still, if not in this month’s Sandpiper, then in the fall the Field Notes will add more new species to the list for Humboldt County.

With that thought in mind, I polled 10 of the most active County birders to arrive at this “dream list” of species that could occur in the County some day. I asked each person to list the five species he or she felt were most likely to occur. To really appreciate this game, play along and write down your own list. Cut these lists out and save them; see who the real experts are over the years. Of course, the critical part of the game is to get out into the field, to locate that next addition to our ever-growing Humboldt County avifaunal checklist.

Fred Broerman — Mongolian Plover, Eurasian Dotterel, Upland Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, McCown’s Longspur

Linda Doerflinger — Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Black Rail, Purple Gallinule, Upland Sandpiper

Richard Erickson — Little Blue Heron, Trumpeter Swan, White-rumped Sandpiper, Connecticut Warbler, Mourning Warbler

Gary Friedrichsen — Spoonbill Sandpiper, Black-backed Woodpecker, Gray Catbird, White Wagtail, White-winged Crossbill

Stan Harris — Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Yellow Wagtail, Blue-winged Warbler, Black-chinned Sparrow

Mark Higlev — Smew, Eurasian Dotterel, Spotted Redshank, Spoonbill Sandpiper, Black Skimmer

Gary Lester — Wood Stork, Great Knot, Common Ground Dove, Painted Redstart, Pine Grosbeak

Lauren Lester — Gyrfalcon, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Greater Pewee, Lucy’s Warbler, Eurasian Bullfinch

Ron LeVallev — Short-tailed Albatross, Little Blue Heron, White-rumped Sandpiper, Gray Catbird, Great-tailed Grackle

John Sterling — Smew, Wood Sandpiper, White-eyed Vireo, Mourning Warbler, Eurasian Bullfinch

Gary reminded me that, as the author, he felt compelled to offer further food for thought, rather than merely “parrot” the high-probability choices of others. Therefore, it’s not valid to compare his predictions to the “batting averages” of the members of Team 1988. However, a “statistical lite” analysis reveals that the collective batting average of the group was .360 (18 out of 50 correct guesses and 15 new species). Richard Erickson batted .800 (4 of 5 correct).

Now, for the prognostications from Team 2002:

Jan Andersen — Arctic Loon, Short-tailed Albatross, Black Skimmer, Slaty-backed Gull, Eurasian Dotterel

Stan Harris — Arctic Loon, Dotterel, Chimney Swift, Great Crested Flycatcher, Gyrfalcon

John Hunter — Black Skimmer, Dusky Warbler, Black-backed Wagtail, Black-backed Woodpecker, Short-tailed Albatross

Ken Irwin — Upland Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Bell’s Vireo, Pine Warbler

Tom Leskiw — Arctic Loon, Eurasian Dotterel, Dusky Warbler, Upland Sandpiper, Steller’s Eider

Gary Lester — Arctic Loon, Spotted Redshank, Black-backed Woodpecker, Swainson’s Warbler, Gray-crowned Rosy Finch

Lauren Lester — Gyrfalcon, Upland Sandpiper, Red-headed Woodpecker, Blue-throated Hummingbird, White-winged Crossbill

Ron LeValley — Short-tailed Albatross, Black Skimmer, White-rumped Sandpiper, Arctic Loon, Manx Shearwater

John Sterling — Arctic Loon , Black Skimmer, Scott’s Oriole, Manx Shearwater, Brown Shrike

Matt Wachs — Chimney Swift, Black Skimmer, Broad-winged Hawk, White-rumped Sandpiper, LeConte’s Sparrow

As we know, spring and early summer are likely timeframes in which to find unusual birds. I, for one, am curious about how many additions to the Humboldt checklist will be made between now and the next issue of the Sandpiper.

Tom Leskiw (April 14, 2002)