How to Create a Complete Bird List

There are probably as many ways to create a bird list as there are birders. You can purchase a variety of checklists, or you can create your own. I find that a spreadsheet with columns for the months allows me to keep track of the birds I've seen, when they are migrating in and out, and where I saw them. You can simply make an X on your list or add the dates observed, if you want to compare first sightings from one year to another. Another thing that may be interesting for some is to keep track of the winter plumage vs the breeding plumage.

I put my list in alphabetical order. Other people like to categorize their birds by family. Still others find a running list most useful, starting with the first bird spotted each year.

For those who are new to birding, but are able to recognize some calls, convention says that you can add a bird to your list (for a day, month, outing, etc.) if you've heard it, but only if you've physically seen it that calendar year. This is another reason why many of us start a new list each year. Most serious birders also have a life-list, that is, a list of all the birds we've seen in our life along with the dates those birds were first seen. For life-lists, most people I know add the date to their favorite field guide or bird identification app rather than keeping a separate slip of paper or spreadsheet.

I'm going to share my spreadsheet for this year, updating it with new observations as they occur, and hope my birding journey encourages you to keep track of your sightings as well!


Species Seen in 2021JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay
American CrowX XXXX
American RobinX XXXX
Barn Swallow


X
Black VultureX XXXX
Blue JayX
XX
Boat-Tailed Grackle
X
X
Brown CreeperX



Canada GooseXXXX
Carolina ChickadeeXXXX X
Carolina WrenX XXXX
Chipping Sparrow


XX
Common LoonXX


Dark-Eyed JuncoX X
X

Double-Crested CormorantXXX

Downy WoodpeckerX



Eastern BluebirdXXXX X
Eastern Kingbird


XX
Eastern PhoebeXXXXX
European Starling
X
X
Forster's Tern
X


Golden-Crowned KingletX



Great Black-Backed Gull
X


Great Blue HeronX XXXX
Green Heron


X
Hooded Merganser

X

House Finch


X
House Sparrow

X

Laughing Gull
XX

Least Sandpiper

X

Mallard

X

Mourning DoveXX XXX X
Northern CardinalX XX X
X X
Northern MockingbirdXX XXXX
Northern FlickerX



Osprey

XX
Palm WarblerX



Pine WarblerX



Purple FinchX



Red-Headed Woodpecker
X


Red-Shouldered HawkXXX

Red-Tailed HawkX



Ring-Billed GullXX


Ruby-Crowned KingletX



Rudy Turnstone
X


SanderlingXXX

Song SparrowX



Tufted TitmouseX



White-Breasted NuthatchX



Willet
XX

Wilson's Snipe

X


X = Birds seen at home in Central NC
X = Birds of the Carolina Coast
X = Birds observed in parks and on trails in Central NC

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