Life List Birds: Scott’s Oriole and Hermit Thrush

Yes, I keep a life list of birds! But along with the list (which includes birds from around the world), I also try to learn something about the species logged, and lately I’ve been enjoying sketching them too.

It’s been a while since a new-to-me bird species came into view. So it was doubly exciting when I was able to increase my list by two on two consecutive days. Meet the Scott’s Oriole and the Hermit Thrush.

June 30, 2022. Scott’s Oriole ……. What a gorgeous burst of lemon yellow! Hiking along the trail on a beautiful morning, keeping my eyes and ears wide open for anything new, off to the west I was surprised to hear a familiar song. My first reaction was, “wow, that must be a Western Meadowlark!!” But listening closer, the birdsong seemed sweeter and more melodious than the meadowlark, and besides meadowlarks don’t usually keep singing well past sunrise, right? And this desert habitat is all wrong too. Then scanning the treetops I spotted him. Perched high in a juniper, singing like he owned the world, was a good sized bird with a glossy black head, neck and wings, and the most brilliant yellow breast I’ve ever seen! Still unsure what species this guy could be, I quickly took a few pictures and then he flew away.

Scott’s Oriole, North Copper Trails, ABQ Open Space

The pictures were proof positive …… Scott’s Oriole!


July 1, 2022. Hermit Thrush ……. Hiking into the pine and fir forests of the eastern flank of Sandia Mountain is such a pleasure on a hot summer morning. With an elevation in excess of 8300 feet, not only the vegetation but the wildlife is very different from the surrounding arid foothills and desert. This is an area of black bear, mountain lion and bobcat. A horned lizard may cross the trail, snakes are scarce, and the views are amazing.

Descending the trail after a pleasant hike we heard unfamiliar birdsong. About 20 feet to our right was a non-descript brown bird sitting on a pine branch in a small opening singing a melancholy 6-note melody. He sang and sang, maybe calling his mate to join him. She never showed up, but this little bird stayed long enough to snap a few photos.

And once again, the pictures were key in identifying this bird as a Hermit Thrush.

Hermit Thrush, Tecolote Trail, Sandia Mountain

Have you seen any new-to-you birds this summer? I’d love to know!

4 Comments

  1. Deidre Pistochini says:

    Loving your posts, Barbara! Your are so talented and your insights and love of nature come shining through.

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    1. Hi Deidre! Wow, it’s been a long time since we’ve chatted!thanks so so much for the lovely comments on my posts. I truly appreciate the feedback. Definitely loving my nature explorations; it seems like this is my happy place.

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  2. Wonderful bird encounters! I have been using the Merlin app lately to ID birds that I hear and that has been fun! We learned about and observed Oyster Catchers while camping last week on the west side of San Juan island and their very noisy call! We heard the Eagle’s call and watched them swoop in to raid the Oyster Catcher nests and heard Barred Owls call almost every night! I hadn’t thought to keep a life list of birds – is this a list of birds that you want to see, or a list that you have seen? It’s intriguing either way!

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    1. Oh I love oyster catchers! They have the most interesting bills. The chicks aren’t born with the underbite, but grow it out as they age. Must be perfect for scooping. Hope none of the eagles scored on eggs! But eagles gotta live too. How fun to hear owls. I love Merlin. They must be my favorite group of raptors. Oh, all birds are my favorites. Life lists! I have been keeping a life list of my bird encounters for decades ….. back to the mid 80s. A life list is primarily a list of first encounters along with some meta data, but I use mine like a bird inventory. You should see my field guides …… annotated with encounters, dates location and observation comments. It’s fun to go back and see. That’s why I’m sure I’ve never before seen either a hermit thrush or the Scott’sOriole. Thanks for the comments Karen! Happy bird kayaking!

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