Undertaking a Big Year requires a more extreme version of planning than what is needed to bird in a typical year. In a Big Year a birder is trying to see or hear new birds every day, day after day, throughout the whole year.
The first woman to complete a North American Big Year (continental United States and Canada) and identify over 700 species, Lynn E. Barber clocked more than 175,000 miles and ticked off a then record setting 723 species over twelve months in 2008. Yet even as an anomaly—a female birder in the then male-dominated world of competitive birding—she took the initiative to reimagine the whole idea of a Big Year in the two biggest states in the country.
At home in both Texas and Alaska, Barber offers an inside look into how to plan, execute, and thoroughly enjoy a year of finding the birds that inhabit two of the nation’s most diverse landscapes. The drastic differences between the climate, geography, plant life, and habitat at the far northern and southern edges of the US mainland mean seeing a distinct number of birds in each state that are not found in the other. Yet as states with both coastal and international boundaries, Texas and Alaska provide countless opportunities to see the most seasonally varied, far flying, and specifically adapted birds in the world.
As Barber chronicles her travels throughout the Texan and Alaskan landscapes, serious and casual birders alike will appreciate her lively and informative prose and commitment to her distinct approach to the Big Year challenge.