Today is the one year anniversary of this blog…originally created by my daughter, Sarah, who encouraged me to document the final stretch of the pursuit to see 700* North American (ABA) bird species in my lifetime. I believe it was a polite way to inform me that she and most others would prefer to read about my quest on their own time, rather than listen to my spontaneous and frequent bird tales; or not pay attention to them at all. I completely understand.
*Note: some of you will recall that my lifetime goal was actually 600; a goal I set in 1968 with Jeff Dingle and reached in 2011. But because of birding’s heightened popularity and sophisticated uses of ever-advancing technology (i.e. rare bird text alerts),”700 is the new 600″.
Whatever the case, I am flattered friends and family actually read and seem to generally enjoy the posts, particularly the photos. I honestly thought the earliest I would reach 700 would be in 2017, but 2013 turned out to be a really “Big Year”. As a matter of fact, Cornell University (the bird data gatekeepers) reports that I saw 541 species in 2013 alone, ranking me 119th among those that submitted observations in 2013. I sent Cornell’s E-BIRD website all 81 of my checklists, which ranked me only 5,993rd, so many people actually do this birding thing very seriously.
My mother is concerned that I will experience a mental let-down when I reach 700. Admittedly, I am obsessed in reaching that number, but once I do, I promise that I will slow down and concentrate more on good photographs as opposed to “good” birds. I won’t be bored….no worries.. but I am thankful she cares!
Many of you ask, “How many birds can one see in North America?”. Great question. Every species is assigned a number between 1 and 6, based on its frequency of appearance in NA. Code 6 birds are basically extinct, 5’s have been recorded five or fewer times EVER, and 4’s constitute three or more (basically only a handful!) records the last 30 years. So, subtracting the 4-6’s from the official ABA total leaves 760. That is MY answer.
How many people have reached the 700 plateau? My somewhat educated guess is about 1,000. They are generally professional guides, retired, or people like me – someone fortunate enough to have the resources and support from home to pursue a passion. Public Thank You to NINA – I missed Valentine’s Day and her birthday this weekend…but I did not forget.
I want to emphasize that although bird “listing” is just a game, it is a wonderful excuse to enjoy and notice the incredibly interesting natural world that surrounds us. Of course, it is a good exercise in planning, execution and persistence. Are any of my kids reading this?
The count stands at 693 and you bet I have a plan to hit 700… by Memorial Day. Stay tuned……
So . . . what are some of the targets between now and Memorial Day?
There can’t be many choices to go get . . .
Good luck George! I admire your passion and Nina is an understanding gem:)
Do you have to ask if your kids read these? By Memorial Day! ? Did you know that Carl Beresin died last week? Shiva sitting now but Connie too sick, had to have a transfusion in the hospital so shiva was canceled.
That was quick…love it! In order:
March 28-29: King Ranch, Texas…private tour for Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (code 3) and should also nail Groove-billed Ani (code 2);
May 17-19: SF area for Mt. Quail (my last code 1);
May 20: Kenai Peninsula, Alaska for Aleutian Tern (code 2);
May 22-24: Pribilof Islands, Alaska for Red-faced Cormorant, Red-legged Kittiwake (code 2’s)…..AND hoping CODE 4 White-tailed Eagle or some rare Asian vagrant is #700.
Of course, this all could change, as you well know!
Puss: you’re our Hank Aaron. Keep ýhammerin away. Puss
Jay Bennett 203-625-5079
I sense a 700 party!!
I presume you’ll lay out the plan to get to 750!
Congrats and keep up the fun blogging.
Cheers Bob! So fun to hear from you…..
I cannot believe there were 118 kookier people than you in 2013. 541 is a lot!
I do enjoy receiving and reading your posts in your entertaining style. And your photos are great!
Good luck on the trek to 700!
Hah! You are the kook Mike…as one of my most loyal followers!! Thanks again for reading and commenting. I’m done blogging after 700. Need to re-learn golf.
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George â€“ youâ€™re amazing â€“ keep it up â€“ love to read about your quest and see the photoâ€™s too â€“ very best, Zies & Jo
Cheers Jo & Z! I think of Yi and my Dad as I lug the camera and heavy 500mm lens around some pretty remote places. They’d certainly enjoy the photos. G
George, As your numbers rise, so too do your skills as a nature photographer. Thanks for sharing the amazing photos of birds that I will never get a chance to see were it not for your Blog!
P.S. Don’t forget that I have seen one bird that is not on your list . . .
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Truly inspiring, Woody. I have NO DOUBT that you’ll reach your goal in time, esp looking at that exotic itinerary! (Back to the mundane: see you on the tennis court this (2/24) evening…. đź™‚
So great- hope to see you soon again!! abs
Anne B. Standish email@example.com