This is one man's account of his Big Year of birding. Mark T. Adams' day job at the time was as an astronomer at McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains. In 2000, he had plenty of compensatory and vacation time so decided to take on a Big Year. As birders know, a Big Year starts on January 1 at 12:00 a.m. and the birder works all year to find as many birds as possible in the wild within a defined area. The year ends on December 31 at 11:59 p.m. local time.
For some people their Big Year covers the entire United States and Canada but others limit their challenge to a region or state. While it is a personal challenge, there are rules: Each species counted must be on the ABA Checklist for the year of the challenge; you have to observe or hear the bird and positively be able to identify it for yourself. As Adams notes, it takes money, time, and stamina to successfully complete a Big Year. He estimates that he spent 1,050 hours over 174 days and made 32 trips away from his home turf, travelling 30,000 miles by car and 18,000 by airplane, to view 489 species in the year. According to his calculations, he saw more than 92% of the state's birds. Wow! I was exhausted just reading the book. Although Adams states that he did not set out to break the Texas record, established in 1995, his efforts ended up tying the record for a Texas Big Year (or any state or province, actually).
|Painted Bunting, South Llano River SP|
|Whooping Crane colt|
An appendix lists all of the birds he located in the state, providing a great checklist for anyone wanting to try a Big Year in Texas. Or, for me, a Big Decade as it will take me that long to find all of these birds. Adams also provides a detailed list of other species that were reliably reported in Texas during 2000 but not seen by him (and therefore not counted in his Big Year).
|Black-throated Green Warbler|
Warblers are especially hard to locate
and identify, being the ultimate "LBBs"
(little bitty birds)