Birding Without Borders

November 1, 2018

On my trip last weekend I read Birding Without Borders by Noah Strycker, about his epic 2015 trip to spot half the world’s bird species in one year. A Big Year with no national limits. He spotted 6,042 of around 10,000+ bird species.  He worked really, really hard for this. And the record was broken the following year, believe it or not.

(For comparison, my own life list is edging toward 300. Total. I think.)

The book is a fun, fast, kind of jaw-dropping read when you consider how Strycker managed it, basically never stopping, always on the move, and reaching out to local birders at every single stop to help him to his goal.

It was inspiring not in the sense that I now want to go out and do some kind of epic Big Year of my own. On the contrary, I think I would rather find one really nice spot, sit there with a spotting scope, and sip a glass of wine while waiting to see what comes along. But, you know, I should try for a different nice spot every few months or so. I would like to bird in Costa Rica or Ecuador at some point. Strycker spent a lot of time in the tropics, which have the greatest concentration of biodiversity and bird species. Entire families of birds I’ve never encountered. Antpittas? Flowerpeckers? Yeah, I’d need some prep work to get ready for that birding trip.

The book was inspiring in giving me some ideas of how to up my own birding game on a smaller scale. Like, you know, prepping by learning the area’s birds before I get there. Also, using not just to report sightings, but to plan trips. I’m already using eBird to report, but I hadn’t really thought about using it to plan until reading about how the site was essential for Strycker.

I’ve already started on this. I’ve got a couple of trips coming up, and I’m going to bring my travel binoculars and scout out some of the nearby hotspots listed on eBird, which will also give me a good idea of what I’ll find when I get there.

This is cool. I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes.



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