• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

What was your bird #1 and when? (1 Viewer)


If you have a life list, it must have started somewhere. I had a year list in 2003 and then confused myself going taxonomic in 2004. Anyway, bird 1 was starling. I started the list after getting the first field guide. It was chosen on the "does it fit in a back pocket?" Principle.


I may be relaxed but I'm not drunk....
My life list started on 1 March 1976, but I have no idea which of the birds seen that day was the first. However, I have full recollection of my first Goldcrest, at Horseshoe Common, Bournemouth, which the list tells me was on 6 March 1976; my "optics" at the time was a tiny extending telescope bought from my local newsagents! I also remember my first Goldfinch, along Palmerston Road, Boscombe, in scrub behind what was Boscombe Hospital, apparently on 4 April 1976 - I was on my way to catch a bus to a mate's house. Thanks for allowing me this nostalgic wander, Tero!


The list I have is pretty well in order the first year, then I had to reconstruct a lot of the order. I did squeeze in a shore bird in the first 15
1. Eurasian starling (2.23.2003)
2. American Crow
3. northern mockingbird
4. northern cardinal
5. mourning dove
6. house sparrow
7. house finch
8. red winged blackbird
9. american robin
10. tufted titmouse
11. dark-eyed junco
12. american goldfinch
13. downy woodpecker
14. white-throated sparrow
15. killdeer


I unfortunately do not have good notes on the first 100 so I could put them in ebird. Some I do remember pretty well, others just the state
85. sharp shinned hawk (MO)
86. golden-crowned kinglet
87. purple martin (IL)
88. lesser yellowlegs (NE)
89. blue-winged teal (NE)
90. green-winged teal NE)
91. sandhill crane (march 2004,NE)
92. lesser scaup
93. blue grosbeak
94. carolina chickadee
95. great crested flycatcher
96. whip-poor-will (Elephant rocks, MO)
97. black tern (WI)
98. marsh wren (WI)
99. pileated woodpecker (MO)
100. pheasant (Iowa)

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I took up birding in 1982 but decided that if I could actually put a date on a bird, I could count it from before then. As a result my first dated record is of a summer male Snow Bunting on top of Ben Nevis (photographed) on 4 August 1980 and the second a Chough at South Stack on 7 August 1981.

I have a feeling the first thing I saw after the Road to Damascus moment was Blue Tit.


paul Robinson

Well-known member
Doubt it was my first bird but I remember hearing a bird and the boy I was with (I was maybe 12) said it was a mistle thrush and I should look for the highest point of the highest tree I could find - and there it was. I was hooked at that point I think because it clearly wasn't a matter of luck, just randomly coming across something, but something that needed study and skill.

Larry Lade

As I recall the first bird that "began" my life list of USA birds (I was in grade school, back in the '40s) was American Robin (called robin), then came Blue Jay (called bluejay), Northern Cardinal (called cardinal),Mourning Dove (called, turtle dove) and Rock Pigeon (called, pigeon or barn pigeon), American Crow (called crow),Red-tailed Hawk (called hawk), meadowlark (I did not know that there were eastern and western ones, just meadowlark), oh, and House Sparrow (called sparrow). *This was while we were living in Kansas (a state in the middle of the US), in a little town (200 people) called "Tampa" in the middle of the state. That was pretty much as much as I knew, just the common birds that were around our little town.
Then one day I heard and saw a bird that I had never seen or heard before. I boyhood friend I happen to be with told me it was a "rain crow". *Later found out that this was a name given by the local farmers for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. *It was said that whenever you heard on calling, it meant that it was going to rain!
Anyway over the years my interest has increased and my bird list for the US is now in the hundreds (off hand, I am not sure what it is (I have to look it up and see!)

*I just looked it up and my USA Life List is 579.

Footnote: I was really amazed in later years to find out that in addition to my "sparrow" there were a whole bunch of other birds called "sparrow", Fox Sparrow, White-throated & White-crowned Sparrow and dozens (maybe hundreds more type of sparrows)! And more amazing, my "sparrow" was not even a sparrow but was some kind of finch!!! And then my "sparrow" was not even a native bird, but brought over here by some European folks!

I have learned a lot over the years, and I imagine that there is still much I can learn. Thanks to all of you for helping me along the way!
Last edited:


Stop Brexit!
Footnote: I was really amazed in later years to find out that in addition to my "sparrow" there were a whole bunch of other birds called "sparrow", Fox Sparrow, White-throated & White-crowned Sparrow and dozens (maybe hundreds more type of sparrows)! And more amazing, my "sparrow" was not even a sparrow of some kind of finch!!! And they my "sparrow" was not even a native bird, but brought over here by some European people!

Actually . . . House Sparrow is a sparrow, and may well be the only real sparrow (Passer; Passeridae) you've seen – the others (Fox, White-throated, etc.) are all imposters, really buntings (Emberizidae), not sparrows at all ;)

Larry Lade

Probably not that big of a deal, but I am going to research the issue in a little more depth as it seems there may be some difference of opinion regarding the actual category into which the House Sparrow fits.


Well-known member
It's a difficult one... I guess the first species I ever ticked in a book (Spotter's Guide to Birds) was a Bullfinch, which would have been when I was about nine, after we moved house to the other side of the town where I lived in South East Manchester. We gained a much bigger, mature garden, and I was amazed with the birds we got there, with bullfinches being the stand-out stars of the show! Before that, I was vaguely aware of lots of brown, black or grey species, but to suddenly realise that wild birds in your garden could be bright pink was a revelation.

The first bird I have any recollection about recognising and knowing the proper name of would have been one or two years earlier than that, when my Grandfather used to point out Great Crested Grebes at Etherow Country park. I was already aware of the "ducks" and "geese" (we went there to feed them), but I remember liking the idea of being able to put such a wonderful name to a bird, and one that kept itself to itself out on the lake rather than came begging for stale bread!


United Kingdom
Probably House Sparrow Passer domesticus in 1979. That's when I started a species list, though not recording details like exact dates until a bit later. My Mum became interested then: a neighbour had visited for coffee and mentioned birds. Mum said "We only get sparrows here" and, pointing to a bird outside, "Like that one". The friend told her that the bird in question wasn't a House Sparrow but an accentor - a Dunnock Prunella modularis (though Dunnocks are still occasionally referred to by the old country name "Hedge Sparrow"). That's where it all started: first for Mum, then me, and then my brother.

What would have happened if that conversation hadn't taken place? Call it "A simple twist of fate". Now I'm getting on a bit and largely flatbound, but still watching and taking photographs from the window. Mum's 89 and in a care home, but still pretty sharp mentally and keeping a year list there. Birding is for life! and a true consolation in age.


Well-known member
My life list started around 1961. At one point I decided to start a list and I probably went into the garden with a little field guide and some simple binoculars and looked around what I saw. I must have looked to the sky as the first bird on the list was the Common House Martin, followed by the Barn Swallow and the Common Swift. I didn't note any dates but I added new birds chronologically. You can read the full story here in this tread!


Well-known member
I started my life list in November 1994, when I was living in Oxfordshire having returned there from university in Glasgow; I was unemployed for a time and needed a hobby! The bird that inspired me and is my official #1 is Red Kite (Milvus milvus), seen near Stokenchurch near to the Chilterns reintroduction site.

Of course, I'd seen lots of species before then, especially as I grew up in North Berwick in Scotland and was very familiar with the various seabirds that frequented Bass Rock.

Since then, my life list has grown to 312, with contributions from France, Sweden, Canada, Madeira, the Canaries, Croatia, Bosnia and Israel.


Users who are viewing this thread