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Birds without Borders

In 1979, James Vardaman saw 699 bird species during the first “modern” Big Year. Since setting his record, numerous others have bypassed his original effort but have done so following nearly the same strategies he developed. He wrote a book about his adventure, and he ends it by speculating about the possibility of a global Big Year and asks “Is 5000 Possible?” Thirty-five years since he wrote that line, and about seven years since his death, Vardaman’s speculation is on the verge of becoming true:

This year I will try to become the first person to see 5,000 species of birds in one calendar year, a sort of cosmopolitan, modern version of Wild America and Kingbird Highway. Rather than hiring international tour guides, I’ll spend my time with passionate locals—individuals who care about their home patches, and who are making a difference for birds in their own areas. Along the way, I will explore how birding, and the conservation of birds, fits into our new, crowded, globalized millennium.

Noah Strycker recently broke the pre-existing world record and still has two continents and about ten weeks to see 180 bird species.

Is 6000 possible?

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