Birding Without Borders Guest Blog

Birding Without Borders by Noah Strycker takes the reader on a trip to 41 countries across all seven continents in Noah’s search to break the Guinness World Record for sighting half the world’s known bird species in a year. Below Noah explains more about this once-in-a-lifetime expedition:


Birding Without Borders

By Noah Strycker


On January 1, 2015, I set out to see the world, one bird at a time.


My goal for this ultimate adventure was to observe 5,000 species of birds on Planet Earth in one calendar year. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but one thing was for sure: I wouldn’t see anything if I didn’t go out and take a look.


Between January and December, I traveled through 41 countries and exceeded my Big Year goal by seeing 6,042 bird species—about 60 percent of all the species on Earth—and set a single-year birding world record.


Anything could have happened, and a lot did. I was scourged by blood-sucking leeches, suffered fevers, skirted war zones, and had the time of my life. I went birding every single day and logged only three days on which I failed to find at least one new species. On average, I reported 16.5 new birds each day. For the entire year, without a rest, I lived out of a small backpack, slept on couches, and birded like mad in some very far-flung places. I couldn’t have done it without the enthusiastic help of many local birders all over the world or the support of many more who followed from afar.


Among my Top 10 moments: thousands of nesting Adélie Penguins on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, an iconic Harpy Eagle in Brazil, a young celebrity Siberian Crane that had strayed to Taiwan, clownish-looking Black-and-yellow Broadbills bathing in rainwater in Borneo, and a long-lost Golden Masked-Owl in New Guinea.


When I finished at the end of the year, I could have told you off the top of my head the names of all 6,042 species. I had them memorized. Now, a couple years later, to be honest, some of the more obscure ones have started to evaporate. It’s kind of hard to keep your camaropteras, oleaginous hemispinguses, and zitting cisticolas straight. But I still remember every single one of the people I met during my travels that year—and there were hundreds by the end—every one of the new friendships, connections, and characters. These are the memories that stick with you, especially when you share such an intense interest like birding.


The thing about birds is that they are universal. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, birds are all around you. So anybody can become fascinated by them. That means we all share the birds of this planet, and by extension the planet that they inhabit. It’s worth saying, especially in today’s general climate, that birds help remind us how to be global citizens, and how connected we really are.


My Big Year is just one example of how we accomplish things by working together across all kinds of borders.

Find Birding Without Borders here:



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