I finally had the chance to watch The Big Year. Have you seen it? Starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin? Yep, I’m a little behind on my movie watching, but I LOVED it! It was absolutely terrific and a wonderful tribute to the informal competition among birders to see who can identify – by sight or sound – the largest number of bird species within a single calendar year.
After watching the movie, I was inspired to learn more about this year long obsession and I discovered that The American Birding Association big year record of 770 bird species is currently held by John Weigel of Australia.
Yes, that’s correct, 770! Unbelievable, right?
One idea that really caught my attention is this idea of a life list. In the movie, the character Bostick starts his Big Year in Phoebe’s Diner, a scene that pays tribute to Phoebe Snetsinger, who died in 1999 with more than 8,000 birds on her life list. And I wondered how many species were on mine. Off I went trying to itemize my life list.
I started an Excel spreadsheet (just because that’s what I do) and went through all of my digital photographs, which of course I have filed by species. That was a great start. Then I filled in the blanks by going through my field guides, one page at a time. Finally, I racked my brain one last time by going through my digital pictures of family vacations. It was a great exercise until, with less than 100 birds on my list, I realized how many trips and outings are in desperate need of planning.
Yoo hoo, oh, Darling Husband! Can we go to Rhode Island in February? I want to add a few birds to my list, like the Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, and Mallard Duck! Sorry dear, was that a yes?
How many birds are on YOUR life list?