On that note, let me offer some tips for success in growing your 5-mile radius list.
1. Find a tried and true birding patch.
This means finding a location with a decent mixture of habitats that you will enjoy birding regularly in every season. Meadowbrook Marsh has filled that niche perfectly for me and I try to bird it 3-4 times a month.
2. Visit random unbirded (or underbirded) spots with potential like duck ponds, neighborhood parks, and cemeteries.
Here's a sample of what I have found in the last month at random places I have turned into eBird hotspots.
3. Find a gull field or parking lot.
A good gull field (or a strip mall parking lot) can add several species to your 5MR list that you might not find elsewhere. A middle school field less than three miles from my home has been consistently gull-filled when I have driven by on weekends. The first time I stopped to check it out I immediately noticed a Herring Gull, an Iceland Gull, Mew Gulls, a Ring-billed Gull, and Glaucous-winged Gulls.
Another day Jacob and I stopped by and found another good gull:
Western Gull! This was my 200th Clark County year bird and Jacob's straight up 200th Clark County bird. 200's all around!
4. Keep an eye out for spots with owl potential.
Jacob and I have been talking about the potential for Northern Saw-whet Owls at various spots in our 5-mile radius and I thought I finally found a roost last week.
I found a bunch of whitewash in this dense super tall tree and what looked like pellets below. It didn't seem quite right for a saw-whet but the cemetery surrounding it is ideal hunting grounds.
Jacob and I visited at dusk to see if we could find an owl. As the sun set and the temperature dropped we noticed activity in the tree. Juncos were flying in to roost and they were settling in right at each patch of whitewash.
Another day we went searching for saw-whets and spent an hour checking trees before Jacob noticed some pellets on the ground.
It took several minutes of searching the tree above before I noticed something interesting, probably a weird stick or a squirrel. I walked around to a different side and realized I was looking at my favorite heart-shaped face.
This bird was impossible to detect from most angles as it was nestled perfectly behind layers and layers of branches.
I still hope to find a saw-whet this winter but for now I'm content with this lovely owl.
So, any takers on a 2019 challenge? I updated the 5MR FAQ page at the top of my blog in case you need help getting started. To make it fair-er across the board we could compare percentages rather than total species. Take the number of species seen in your 5MR and divide by the number of species seen in your county. For example I've had 141 5MR birds this year and 234 species have been seen in my county (per eBird). 141/234 equals about 60%. Just an idea and I am open to any others y'all might have.
**Edit: I created a Facebook group to connect with other 5MR-ers and share our sightings in 2019!
Good times!!!! I'm leaving you with a dog pic because it's been awhile since I've posted one on here.