On my cross-country ride, I practiced “handlebar birding”: I listened all the time for bird songs, and noticed birds visually in my immediate vicinity.  I started in mid May from the west coast, and enjoyed bird songs well into Minnesota before they began to taper off as seasons progressed.

I heard or saw 201 species in all – a modest list for serious birders considering all the habitats I peddled through, but not bad considering that this was primarily a bicycle trip – I didn’t stop or diverge from my route for birds, I simply noted whatever was obvious as I traveled along backroad America. I missed many species either because they didn’t appear near my bicycle or, more likely, I was unfamiliar with their songs or discriminating field marks.

The most common birds across the whole northern continent? Red-winged Blackbirds, Crows and Starlings, followed by Mourning Doves, Robins and Goldfinches.  I loved hearing first Western Meadowlarks and then, in Minnesota, the transition to Eastern Meadowlarks along my transect.  It was a treat to encounter old eastern friends (I grew up birding in Massachusetts) as I moved east, even common birds such as Blue Jays and Chimney Swifts that we don’t have in the Northwest.  I loved traveling through country with Long-billed Curlews, Upland Sandpipers, Black Terns, Horned Larks and Lark Buntings.  I enjoyed the shifts from Lazuli to Indigo Buntings, Western to Scarlet Tanagers, Black-headed to Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Spotted to Eastern Towhees, and, as noted, the Meadowlarks.  My bird list helped to confirm the changes I saw in ecosystems across the land, and to unite west and east under one umbrella over a three-month journey.

Here is my list:

Total species = 201 

Common Loon (first seen and/or heard in Western Montana, 5/30)

Pied-billed Grebe (MN, 6/28)

Western Grebe (ND, 6/19)

American White Pelican (E. MT, 6/12)

Double-crested Cormorant (W. WA, 5/14)

Pelagic Cormorant (W. WA, 5/14)

Brandt’s Cormorant (W. WA, 5/14)

Great Blue Heron (W. WA, 5/19)

Great Egret (MN, 6/26)

Snowy Egret (ME, 8/9)

Green Heron (MN, 6/28)

Mute Swan (MI, 7/14)

Canada Goose (W. WA, 5/15)

Wood Duck (MI, 7/17)

Mallard (W. WA, 5/16)

American Black Duck (Ont, CA, 7/22)

Gadwall (ND, 6/21)

Northern Pintail (E. MT, 6/11)

Northern Shoveler (E. MT, 6/9)

Blue-winged Teal (ND, 6/22)

Green-winged Teal (E. WA, 5/24)

Lesser Scaup (E. WA, 5/22)

Common Eider (ME, 8/10)

Harlequin Duck (W.MT, 6/6)

Surf Scoter (W. WA, 5/14)

Bufflehead (W. WA, 5/14)

Hooded Merganser (WI, 7/1)

Common Merganser (W. MT, 6/2)

Ruddy Duck (MN, 6/29)

Turkey Vulture (W. WA, 5/15)

Northern Harrier (E. MT, 6/9)

Northern Goshawk (E. WA, 5/24)

Broad-winged Hawk (MI, 7/7)

Swainson’s Hawk (E. MT, 6/14)

Red-tailed Hawk (W. WA, 5/17)

Ferruginous Hawk (ND, 6/21)

Golden Eagle (E. WA, 5/23)

Bald Eagle (W. WA, 5/14)

Osprey (W. WA, 5/17)

Merlin (E.WA, 5/26)

American Kestrel (E.WA, 5/23)

Peregrine Falcon (ID, 5/27)

California Quail (E. WA, 5/23)

Ring-necked Pheasant (W. MT, 6/4)

Dusky Grouse (W. MT, 6/5)

Sooty Grouse (W. WA, 5/20)

Ruffed Grouse (W. WA, 5/14)

Wild Turkey (ID, 5/29)

Virginia Rail (MI, 7/6)

Sora (E. MT, 6/12)

Sandhill Crane (MN, 6/30)

Black-bellied Plover (W.WA,, 5/14)

Semipalmated Plover (ME, 8/10)

Killdeer (W. WA, 5/19)

Black Oystercatcher (W. WA, 5/14)

American Avocet (E. MT, 6/12)

Black-necked Stilt (E. MT, 6/11)

Greater Yellowlegs (ME, 8/9)

Willet (E. MT, 6/12)

Spotted Sandpiper (E. WA, 5/22)

Upland Sandpiper (ND, 6/19)

Long-billed Curlew (E. MT, 6/11)

Ruddy Turnstone (ME, 8/10)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (ME, 8/10)

Wilson’s Snipe (E. WA, 5/26)

Bonaparte’s Gull (ME, 8/10)

Franklin’s Gull (E. MT, 6/11) 

Ring-billed Gull (E. MT, 6/9)

Herring Gull (MI, 7/8)

Western Gull (W. WA, 5/14)

Great Black-backed Gull (RI, 8/3)

Caspian Tern (W. WA, 5/19)

Common Tern (MI, 7/9)

Black Tern (ND, 6/21)

Pigeon Guillemot (W. WA, 5/14)

Black Guillemot (ME, 8/10)

Rhinoceros Auklet (W. WA, 5/17)

Mourning Dove (W. WA, 5/17)

Rock Pigeon (E. WA, 5/25)

Band-tailed Pigeon (W. WA, 5/15)

Great Horned Owl (W. WA, 5/17)

Barred Owl (MN, 6/26)

Eastern Screech Owl (RI, 8/2)

Common Nighthawk (E. MT, 6/8)

Chimney Swift (ND, 6/18)

Anna’s Hummingbird (W. WA, 5/16)

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (MN, 6/27)

Rufous Hummingbird (W. WA, 5/17)

Belted Kingfisher (E. WA, 5/23)

Red-headed Woodpecker (MN, 6/27)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (MN, 6/29)

Red-breasted Sapsucker (W. WA, 5/20)

Downy Woodpecker (CT, 8/2)

Hairy Woodpecker (W. WA, 5/16)

Northern Flicker (W. WA, 5/17)

Pileated Woodpecker (MN, 6/30)

Olive-sided Flycatcher (W. WA, 5/16)

Western Wood-Pewee (W. WA, 5/19)

Eastern Wood-Pewee (E. ND, 6/23)

Pacific-slope Flycatcher (W. WA, 5/16)

Willow Flycatcher (ND, 6/18)

Least Flycatcher (ND, 6/17)

Eastern Phoebe (MN, 6/26)

Say’s Phoebe (ND, 6/18)

Eastern Kingbird (E. WA, 5/26)

Western Kingbird (E. WA, 5/23)

Loggerhead Shrike (E. MT, 6/14)

Red-eyed Vireo (ND, 6/18)

Warbling Vireo (W. MT, 6/60

Cassin’s Vireo (W. WA, 5/20)

Steller’s Jay (W. WA, 5/15)

Blue Jay (E. ND, 6/23)

Clark’s Nutcracker (E. WA, 5/21)

Black-billed Magpie (E. WA, 5/22)

Common Raven (W. WA, 5/15)

American Crow (E. WA, 5/22)

Northwestern Crow (W. WA, 5/14)

Horned Lark (E. MT, 6/10)

Purple Martin (MI, 7/14)

Violet-green Swallow (W. WA, 5/15)

Tree Swallow (MN, 6/25)

Cliff Swallow (E. WA, 5/23)

Barn Swallow (W. WA, 5/15)

Tufted Titmouse (RI, 8/2)

Black-capped Chickadee (W. WA, 5/19)

Mountain Chickadee (W. MT, 5/31)

Red-breasted Nuthatch (E. WA, 5/23)

White-breasted Nuthatch (E. WA, 5/23)

Bewick’s Wren (W. WA, 5/19)

House Wren (E. WA,, 5/22)

Winter Wren (MI, 7/13)

Pacific Wren (W. WA, 5/15)

Sedge Wren (ND, 6/22)

Marsh Wren (W. WA, 5/17)

American Dipper (W. MT, 6/6)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (E. WA, 5/25)

Townsend’s Solitaire (W. MT, 6/6)

Mountain Bluebird (E. WA, 5/22)

Western Bluebird (E. WA, 5/22)

Eastern Bluebird (W. ND, 6/17)

Varied Thrush (W. WA, 5/21)

American Robin (W. WA, 5/14)

Wood Thrush (MN, 6/26)

Veery (MN, 6/26)

Swainson’s Thrush (W. WA, 5/20)

Gray Catbird (W.MT, 5/30)

Northern Mockingbird (Ont., CA, 7/23)

Brown Thrasher (MI, 7/14)

European Starling (W. WA, 5/14)

Sprague’s Pipit (E. MT, 6/11)

Cedar Waxwing (MI, 7/11)

Orange-crowned Warbler (W. WA, 5/15)

Nashville Warbler (W. MT, 6/1)

Yellow Warbler (W. WA, 5/15)

Chestnut-sided Warbler (MN, 6/27)

Yellow-rumped Warbler (E. WA, 5/24)

Townsend’s Warbler (W. WA, 5/15)

Prairie Warbler (MI, 7/18)

American Redstart (MN, 6/26)

Ovenbird (W. ND, 6/17)

MacGillivray’s Warbler (E. WA, 5/16)

Common Yellowthroat (W. WA, 5/15)

Wilson’s Warbler (W. WA, 5/15)

Western Tanager (W. WA, 5/15)

Scarlet Tanager (MN, 6/27)

Northern Cardinal (MN, 6/26)

Black-headed Grosbeak (W. WA, 5/15)

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (E. ND, 6/23)

Lazuli Bunting (E. WA, 5/25)

Indigo Bunting (MN, 6/25)

Dickcissel (MN, 6/27)

Spotted Towhee (W. WA, 5/15)

Eastern Towhee (MN, 6/29)

Field Sparrow (W. ND, 6/16)

Clay-colored Sparrow (E. MT, 6/13)

Chipping  Sparrow (W. MT, 5/31)

Savannah Sparrow (W. WA, 5/16)

Lark Bunting (E. MT, 6/13)

Lark Sparrow (E. MT, 6/16)

Whie-throated Sparrow (WI, 7/2)

White-crowned Sparrow (W. WA, 5/16)

Song Sparrow (W. WA, 5/14)

Lincoln’s Sparrow (W. MT, 6/5)

Dark-eyed Junco (W. WA, 5/15)

Cheastnut-collared Longspur (E. MT, 6/12) 

Western Meadowlark (E. WA, 5/21)

Eastern Meadowlark (MN, 6/27)

Bobolink (E. WA, 5/23)

Brown-headed Cowbird (W. WA, 5/16)

Yellow-headed Blackbird (E. WA, 5/24)

Red-winged Blackbird (W. WA, 5/15)

Brewer’s Blackbird (W. WA, 5/15)

Common Grackle (E. MT, 6/11)

Bullock’s Oriole (E. WA, 5/23)

Baltimore Oriole (W. ND, 6/16)

Evening Grosbeak (W. WA, 5/16)

Purple Finch (ME, 8/8)

House Finch (W. WA, 5/16)

Pine Sisken (E. WA, 5/23)

American Goldfinch (W. WA, 5/16)

House Sparrow (W. WA, 5/16)


Other Critters:

Sea Lion

Black-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

Mule Deer


Rough-skinned Newt

Yellow-bellied Marmot



Various Ground Squirrels

Pronghorn Antelope

Black-tailed Prairie Dog