Are you a “Serious Birder”?

“Serious Birder” isn’t a well-defined term but we can describe a few characteristics of one. Serious birding behavior can range widely:

  • Compiles a list of birds they’ve seen in Maryland by yard and county and by year.
  • Subscribes to various social media services and listservs to get the latest on unusual sightings. One example is to have eBird report rarities to your smartphone or birds you’re missing from your county list.
  • Quickly drops what they’re doing and drives long distance to see an unusual species.

Serious birders usually take part in most of the bird counts in their area, periodic atlasing projects, and generally get out to bird frequently. They have a wealth of knowledge about species in their area, recognize bird songs easily, and will more likely see and identify a rare species.

Reporting Unusual Species

Should you see, or think you’ve seen, a rare bird for Maryland, don’t hesitate to report it to follow birders to see via social media (MOS Facebook page, for example) but observe the tips below. If you’re relatively new to birding you might want to check your identification with a few birders in your area to make sure the bird isn’t some intermediate plumage, for example, during molting.

The MOS Records Committee may also like to hear from you. They provide a form for submitting your sightings as well as extensive guidance to help you fully document what you saw, including the list of species to report.

Tips for Managing Observations of Rare Birds

We’re sure you’d like to report your sightings to other birders in the area and give others an opportunity to see the bird. But before you take that step consider several questions.

  • First, will many additional people disturb the bird, especially if it’s nesting?
  • Secondly, if the bird is on private land will the property owner allow birders?

Managing access to the site can be challenging. From our collective years of experience, we’ve compiled an extensive set of tips that may assist discoverers of rare birds to optimize observation opportunities for others while maintaining goodwill with landowners and fellow birdwatchers.

Have you ever wondered which new species will be seen in Maryland? Here’s a historical perspective. How many of these have been seen in Maryland? Check out eBird and find out!

In 2009, many of MOS’s finest birders put their heads together and came up with the list below. Take a look below and see if you agree with the experts.

Matt Hafner and Bill Hubick’s article, “Maryland’s Next 10 Species” gave a great analysis of the Next Ten candidates. The article points to geographic areas out of state (but within striking distance) where these birds have been seen. Also, key birding spots in Maryland are well presented as to candidate areas for sightings. Lastly, the authors could not resist a few choice references to Maryland’s birding counter-culture.

The article also includes two others. An article written by Gene Scarpulla entitled “Next 10 Species on Hart Miller Island” gives a great historical perspective on the birds seen at Hart Miller since 1977, as well as analysis of the birds to come. And Walter Ellison, Coordinator of the 2nd Maryland Breeding Bird Atlas, presents his “Maryland’s Next 10 Breeding Species” in a cogent way. You may want to read Walter’s article along with the 2001 article by Rick Blom, Potential Findings of the Upcoming Breeding Bird Atlas, which was a forecast of possible new breeding species at that time.

PlacementSpeciesVotes Received
1Black-chinned Hummingbird30
2Little Egret29
3Bell’s Vireo25
4MacGillivray’s Warbler19
5White-tailed Tropicbird18
6Brown Booby17
7Sharp-tailed Sandpiper17
8Golden-crowned Sparrow16
9Slaty-backed Gull15
10White-winged Tern14
11Kirtland’s Warbler14
12PInk-footed Goose14
13Long-billed Murrelet13
14Yellow-billed Loon12
15Green Violetear11
16Violet-green Swallow10
17White-tailed Kite8
18European Storm-Petrel7
19Herald Petrel7
20Bar-tailed Godwit7
21Clark’s Grebe6
22Boreal Owl6
23Shiny Cowbird5

Other Honorable Mentions at that time: Black-tailed Godwit, Garganey, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Snowy Plover, Great-tailed Grackle, Spotted Redshank, Red-billed Tropicbird

And the long shots: Sprague’s Pipit, Brown-chested Martin, Brown Noddy, Ivory Gull, “Western” Flycatcher, Brambling, Ferruginous Hawk, Mottled Duck, Hermit Warbler, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Masked Booby, Black-throated Sparrow, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Mountain Plover, Western Bluebird, Redwing, Lesser Sand-Plover, West Indian Whistling-Duck, Black-billed Magpie, Eurasian Woodcock, Band-tailed Pigeon, Red-throated Pipit, Elegant Tern, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, Great Gray Owl, Lesser Goldfinch, Cassin’s Kingbird, Dusky Flycatcher, Lesser Nighthawk, Scott’s Oriole, Western Gull