A Big Year…

Eastern Meadowlark, Chagrin River Park, 03/18/20

Well, this COVID-19 situation really sucks the life out of things, pun intended. We are now in the midst of parks being closed entirely to visitors, not just their nature centers and programs. Birding programs and festivals are being canceled left and right – the Shreve Spring Migration Sensation and most recently, the Ohio Ornithological Society’s Warblers and Wildflowers at Shawnee State Park are the latest victims. I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop – The Biggest Week and The Presque Isle Festival. If/when that occurs, that kills my festival plans entirely for the year. I am planning a trip to Maine in late June, and wonder if that will happen or not. I fully understand the reasoning behind these drastic measures, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy with them. 😉 If all the parks close, there will be no birding at all.

So in light of the 2020 spring migration basically being canceled, I’m now looking forward to 2021, and am announcing here that next year, I will be pursuing an eBird Big Year in Ohio. What is a Big Year? It’s an exercise to see how many individual species you can observe in a particular geographic region in a year, in this instance the State of Ohio. And I’ll be using eBird to record my sightings, hence an eBird Big Year.

Currently, the top two birders in Ohio have 144 individual species each on their lists. I currently have 104, and tomorrow when the new rankings come out, I should be ranked as tied for 66th. For perspective, as of 2018 there are 433 individual species recorded in the State, and as of today, 175 species have been recorded for the year. Even the top tier birders don’t have all the recorded species yet – geographic location plays a huge part, as does simple luck and being in the right place at the right time.

So why am I going to do this? Simple. Because I can. Because I would welcome some competition in a hobby I am passionate about. And because I want to rebuild my life list. I’m not doing it for ego – I will never be a “leet” birder, nor do I want to. I love to study the birds and their behaviors – all birds, Robins even – and I respect others too much to be an asshat birding, and I can’t stand those that are. I want to help others with this great hobby and to share the knowledge of finding unusual birds.

So that’s my announcement for today. Let’s get through this crisis, be safe, stay isolated, stay sane… go out and see some birds!

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