Dorian Anderson Does It!

If this post looks familiar to you it's because I wrote it just seven days ago. Why would I repost this article? It's because I want to show you the different reactions to Dorian Anderson's tremendous achievement and Neil Heyward's conventional if record breaking Big Year in 2013. There has been NO reaction at the American Birding Association(ABA) to Dorian's efforts nine days after his year ended. Bear in mind that he was out there raising money for them. I am going to re-tag this post to include the ABA. In 2013 I was able to connect my blog to their's using this method. Don't know if it still works but I will find out. More on this below my post congratulating Dorian Anderson.

Congratulations go out to Dorian Anderson for successfully and safely completing his Biking for Birds Big Year. This was Dorian's pledge when he started his birding adventure.

I, Dorian Anderson, will travel only by bike, foot, and kayak as I move about the continent in search of birds. My movements will be unaided by petroleum, natural gas, and electricity. I will not have a support vehicle; everything I need will be carried on my person and my bicycle. This Big Year permutation will certainly add an unprecedented level of adventure to the endeavor, and it should set a new standard for environmentally sustainable travel.

His early estimate of bird species he expected to find was between 550 and 600. His final total is 617 with the possibility of an additional Red-legged Honeycreeper if the Texas Rare Bird Committee approves it.

He visited 28 states, biked 17,830 miles, walked 493 miles and kayaked 8 miles. He had 34 flat tires, 1 broken spoke, and 1 broken dérailleur cable. He raised over $45,000 for bird conservation and birding programs.

He has set a record for the most birds seen without using a carbon producing vehicle. We will see if anyone in the birding community will attempt to break it. Most birders like to bird using the comforts of their cars. Maybe the next attempt at a birding big year should be using public transportation.

You can see Dorian's final 2014 post at his Biking For Birds Blog. You can still hit the donation button.


Here is an email that I sent to Nate Swick, ABA's blog manager on January 3rd.

Nate–Dorian Anderson has completed his Biking for Birds big year. In fact it's been 3 days now going on 4. He was actually out there raising money for the ABA. Why the silence on his efforts? You should be featuring him prominently on your blog just because of his efforts. I would bet that by this time last year Neil Hayward received more blog time and as far as I know he wasn't raising any money for ABA. Maybe Neil can get on a bike and challenge Dorian's record.

Richard Hubacek

Little River, CA

OK it was a little snarky! Here is Nate's reply on the fourth.

I haven't silenced his efforts. I just have a ton of other stuff backed up that I need to get published. We'll have something on Dorian very soon.


Of course I hadn't claimed that he had “intentionally” silenced Dorian's efforts, it's just that no one at the ABA seems to be excited about them. Nate was excited with Neil Heyward's efforts. He was on the boat when Neil Heyward's broke Sandy Komito's record on December 28, 2013. You can read about Nate's excitement on the ABA's blog. Note the title, Neil Hayward Does It! Sort of like my title for this post. Other members of the ABA staff were out with Neil during his year especially in Alaska. To be fair I read where some members of ABA's staff met up with Dorian early in his year and one, Diana Doyle, a green birder and writer for Birding, actually rode with him. There may have been others. Nate also wrote a blog titled, Gunning For ABA Big Year on the 6th of December, 2013. There was the Hayward vs Komito: A Look at the Playing Field by Greg Neise on December 27th. There was the Congratulations Neil! by Lynn Barber on December 31st. The ABA let Neil Hayward announce the ABA's Bird of the Year during an interview. I think I'm safe when I say that there was lot's of excitement at the end of 2013 because of Neil Hayward. None so far for Dorian Anderson. Maybe it's because Dorian was setting a record and not breaking one (although I think he broke a few) but I'm afraid that it's the culture of birding in general and at the ABA specifically. I hope they make a big deal when he hands them a big fat check.

Update: Before someone makes a big deal out of it, there was one “biking” Big Year featured on January 2, 2014. It was titled, An Interview with Ron Beck: Big Green Year Record-breaker.

As for the culture of birding and the ABA mentioned above, I wrote in 2013, a post called, Is the ABA Schizophrenic? It wasn't one of my best written posts but I sure liked the title.


A Tale of Two Birders–Might be My Best Viewed Post

My “Contrasts–A Tale of Two Birders” post yesterday just might be my most viewed post. I think I’m finally figuring out (after a year of doing this) how to “tag” my posts so they get noticed. Somehow the ABA Blog picked up my post and there was a link to my blog on their front page yesterday evening until this afternoon when it rotated off the front page. Actually I was on their front page twice. I had commented on one of the Neil Hayward posts about how many birds could be seen when Hawaii becomes included in the ABA territory. I’m against that happening. Extreme birders and listers are already putting lot’s of carbon into the air without the need to fly to Hawaii seeking more birds.

The American Bird Conservancy has this to say in their global warming section of their website. “All birds stand to be affected by global warming, but most at risk are those that utilize sensitive coastal habitats such as marshes and beaches, and island-nesting species. Hawaiian birds are particularly at risk both from habitat loss and the spread of malaria and pox to higher elevations with rising temperatures.”

This is the second time my blog has been linked to the ABA Blog. There have been over 20 views of my blog since the link showed up on the ABA Blog. I’m glad because that’s the kind of readers that I’m trying to reach.



Contrasts–A Tale of Two Birders

This post will be a tale of two birders and their quest for a “record” Big Year. I’ve already told you about Mark Kudrav’s record big year in a previous post. Mark is still going strong as of today even though he’s already smashed the Green Big Year record of 318. 

Mark’s bio taken from the San Mateo Outdoor Education website, “Mark is a graduate of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a B.A. in Environmental Resource Management/Forestry. He has completed courses in the Art of Mentoring and Kamana I and ll naturalist training. He has worked as a forestry technician assisting graduate research in the field and in greenhouses. He developed and gave extended presentations about forest fire ecology to students throughout Virginia. He has also worked as a literacy tutor who helped tutor children in reading at three elementary schools. For several years, he led a program called Nature Awareness and Tracking Stuff where he used games, stories, songs, and nature hikes to teach environmental education to children of all ages. He worked for four summers as a camp counselor in Durango, Colorado, helping lead 8 to 12 year-olds on backpacking trips and establishing an organic garden. Additionally, he served for a season as a Park Ranger on Isle Royale National Park. He enjoys playing the guitar, writing songs, gardening, birding and tracking. He is returning to San Mateo Outdoor Education for his eleventh year. Mark’s nature name at outdoor education is “Redstart.” Mark’s blog is here. Mark’s way of getting around during his big year is his bike, Modus. Mark has used no fossil fuel during his big year.

The other big year birder has also set a record…well maybe. Some of his birds still have to be approved. His name is Neil Hayward. Neil is the Founder of Cambridge Blue Consulting-Greater Boston Area-Biotechnology. His summery on LinkedIn is, “Senior business executive with experience leading and developing teams globally. I have a degree from Oxford (BA – biochemistry) and a PhD from Cambridge (in developmental neurobiology) together with global research experience. I have over a decade of experience in the eCommerce and biotech industry – including business development, setting up global offices, matrix and regional management, IPO and M&A. I have experience at the board level, managing a company and developing a management team. 

I am passionate about growth, both corporate and human – I’m interested in providing a progressive and stimulating environment which breeds and encourages personal success and development.

Neil is doing an ABA area big year. His way of getting around is…anything that flies, drives or floats using fossil fuels. Neil’s blog is here. Both Mark’s and Neil’s blog have lot’s of birding information in them and are fun to read. Both seem like nice guys. In reading both blogs there are references to other birders doing the same types of big years.

What are the current numbers? Mark has currently seen as of this post 326 birds and biked 5096 miles. Neil has seen 746 birds plus 3 provisionals (i.e. Birds that have to approved by a committee), flown 193,758 miles, driven 51,758 miles and boated 147 hours (15 days. I guess it hard to gage miles in a boat). Mark’s carbon footprint for his birding is zero. Neil’s carbon footprint is…Jesus I don’t know. Would someone please calculate it for me? I think that we can all agree that it’s a whoooole lot more than Mark’s

How about the difficulty of the two big years. If you read Mark’s blog you will find him biking Highway 395 up and down steep mountain roads or dodging traffic on Highway 1. Neil’s difficulties seem to be having to sleep in airports and finding a good cup of coffee or a good meal. He probably had a hard time dodging traffic on the way to the airport. The last comment was out of line but I’ll keep it in the blog because you know what my feelings on this issue are. As this ABA blog states, all you need is, “…a laptop computer, cell phone and the necessary contacts, time, resources and desire…” I think the definition for resources is mostly money.

The American Birding Association (ABA) is treating Neil as a celebrity. There have been 3 or 4 (or more) posts on their blog. If you Google Neil you will find him on bird forums, blogs and newspaper stories. If you Google Mark you might find a local newspaper story and his place of work. I found one post for Mark on the ABA site here. It’s more like a footnote and not from any of the big names at ABA. Neil had the ABA Blog manager, Nate Swick, on the boat with him when he found his last bird, a Great Skua. He was on a John Puschock bird tour in Adak, Alaska. John reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. He had Greg Neise taking pictures of him while birding St. Paul Island, Alaska. Greg Neise is a web developer for the ABA. I would bet that Mark didn’t have any ABA people following him around and no celebration pictures taken when he smashed the “green” record.

How do you evaluate these big years? Do you base it on just brut numbers? It appears that many birders do. I evaluate based on the amount of carbon going into the air and the proven effects that carbon has on the environment and birds. Mark wins in my opinion. 

In his book called, “Kingbird Highway” Kenn Kaufman claimed the record for “birds per buck”. In 1973 Kenn did a big year. He found 666 birds basically hitch hiking around the country. He did the year on less than $1000. I don’t think Neil came very close to that. Kenn Kaufman is a big name in birding. He’s written several field guides and is a board member of the ABA. My questions are…Why aren’t birders trying to break that record? Will any ABA members try to break Mark’s record?