Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Welcome to the Year of Birds!

It all started when I (Damon) took a trip to see my mother in Maryland. After visiting her, I visited my oldest brother and we hung out, flipping through the TV, when we stumble on The Big Year. We watched some of it and chatted about it because my brother had seen it before and I had only read the book. But it was in the middle of the movie, so we turned it (I wanted to watch it all the way though and not just from the middle), and I didn’t think much about it.

The next day I was driving home along the Eastern Shore of Maryland into Delaware (a long, boring stretch punctuated by periods of nothing and an occasional Royal Farm or Wawa) when a sign came unto me in the form a bald eagle flying low to the ground, probably on 20 feet above my car. I thought how cool that was and, damn, it is a shame that I wasn’t doing a big year, because a accidental sighting like that would be a good story, right?

Then it hit me! I CAN do something like a big year, without actually making it a ‘big’ year. I can just have a Year of Birds where I look for birds and try to get as many as I can without going too far out of my way (no Dry Tortugas or Alaska for me). That would be awesome and fun, but not so much if it is only on my own. I needed someone else to join in on my escapades. There was only one choice.

Paul and I have been friends for a long time, and we both like to bird watch. Now, neither of us are hardcore birdwatchers, but are instead more hobbyists who never really have time to do too much of it (and neither of us probably are good at warblers anyway), but we both are biologists who love this type of stuff, especially when there is a competitiveness to it. Besides, Paul is who introduced me the book The Big Year years ago (we were into it before it was a movie because we are awesome. Also geeks.).

So that is where we are now, with me and Paul having a fun and friendly competition on who can see the most birds in the year of 2013. We do have some rules:

1)      The birds can only be from the mainland USA and Canada. No Hawaii, no Caribbean, no Dry Tortugas bullshit.
2)      You have to identify them yourself. No having someone else identify them for you, no having someone point out the identifying marks. It has to be all you.
3)      The identification has to be 100%. No “well, I am pretty sure it was this bird.” If you aren’t 100%, it isn’t and ID. No driving down the highway at 70 MPH and seeing a bird out of the corner of your eye that may have had pink feet.

So this blog is a journal of our adventures in our year of birds. Some posts will be stories about things, some will be musings on various things, some will be a little natural history or ecology and evolutionary biology about birds we see, and many will be a summary of what birds we’ve seen that day or week.

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