Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Minimum Daily Requirement of Birds

Very cold American Pipit first thing this morning

Red-throated Loon a loooooooooooooooooooooooooong way off


Oh, my! I went out on my first Cornell Lab Spring Field Ornithology class. We went to two local birding hotspots--Stewart Park and Myers Point--and ended up in Sapsucker Woods. And I got my Recommended Daily Allowance of birds and more. And it made me think about the differences between the standards for the Recommended Daily Allowance and the Minimum Daily Requirement. According to the definition, the Recommended Daily Allowance is "The amount of each nutrient that provides for the animal's nutritional requirements; abbreviated RDA. It is greater than the minimum daily requirement (MDR), allowing for individual variation."

I think 20 species, in most areas of the country outside really urban spots, are more of a Minimum Daily Requirement than a Recommended Daily Allowance, since the more species we see, the better we feel, and unlike most vitamins, you can't have too many birds. So I'm going to set 20 species as my Minimum Daily Requirement, and set my Recommended Daily Allowance as 40 species in spring. I'm picking that number because my first spring of birding, in 1975, I saw 40 species the entire season. Today we got the Recommended Daily Allowance and more:

Canada Goose
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
American Pipit
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow