700 in one year

Posted December 16th, 2010 by kcorliss. Comment (1).

Actually it’s 701. But yesterday marked the first time anyone (that we know of) has ever seen or heard 700 or more bird species in the lower 48 states in one calendar year. The record-breading species? Both a common and a hoary redpoll located in Valley City, No. Dak., of all places. And at a residence of someone I know.

The itinerant birder’s name is Chris and he’s from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Here’s his website, complete with a map depicting the amount of car and air travel he has endured this year, in addition to near-daily write-ups on his 2010 birding adventures .

Quite an accomplishment to be sure. One thing is certain, however. Very very few of us have the resources to pull off such a feat. There are scads of capable birders in every state. Not many of them, though, possess the money and time needed to make a thing like this happen. It’s just not in the cards for most of us. But kudos to Chris.

I actually ran into this guy in July when I and my family were on the ferry out to Santa Cruz Island in California. Both of us had motives, mine ulterior, his quite obvious. I was merely keeping my young adult children happy by doing a cool thing with them. He was there solely to find the island scrub jay, a species which is only seen on this one tiny piece of real estate of the Calif. coast. I wanted to see it too, but I couldn’t very well tell my wife and kids we were taking this trip just to find a bird now could I? 

In any case, I found the bird once we got to the island and pointed it out to some others. Chris and about four fellas scrambled over with cameras and binoculars to record the event. So in a tiny tiny way, I guess I can say I contributed to his list. (He would have likely found one eventually but don’t burst my little fantasy bubble).

I’m not quite sure what to make of these pseudo-feats. In a way, it’s fun to realize such things can be done. At the same time, what is the point? Is it merely to fulfill some sort of self-aggrandizing scheme?

It’s similar to climbing Everest or sailing around the world I think. Sure a lot of people are capable, but who among us has the money and time for it? And what of the birds themselves? Is the guy fully relishing the experiences or is he simply checking a box and moving along? I don’t know enough about him to make a guess but I have a sneaky feeling there will be a forthcoming book. Any bets?

One response to “700 in one year”

  1. Daryl Ritchison

    Keith, we need to win the lottery to compete against that man! Very impressive to say it mildly.