[Tweeters] A challenge for Washington's county listers

Josh Adams xjoshx at gmail.com
Sun Dec 1 12:13:15 PST 2013

Denny's post yesterday reminded me of some sobering county listing
information I recently came across.

California has 58 counties (average size 2,822 square miles) which compares
to Washington's 39 counties (average size 1,829 square miles). This sounds
not-so-bad until you look at the list and realize that some of those
counties are tiny. San Francisco county is only 47 square miles, which is
less than 1/5 the size of Wahkiakum county. Then there is Alpine county,
located in the middle of the Sierra Nevada and so remote that it's home to
a mere 1,175 people. I think there are more subscribers to this listserv,
for reference. As of last month, 5 birders have managed to tick 200+
species in all 58 counties.

Of course, California at least has the advantage of getting much higher
numbers of eastern vagrants and wanderers from Mexico as well as sharing
Washington's wealth of habitat diversity. It also has a large population
which means more eyes looking out for birds. Kansas, is the worst case
scenario for county listing, from what I can tell. It's 105 counties (783
square miles on average, slightly larger than Thurston county) are all
pretty similar in habitat. Certainly no marine shoreline and the closest
thing to mountain ranges I've seen on my trips there were mole hills and
ant hills and were therefore seasonal. Still, at least two birders have
managed to get 100+ species in all 105 counties.

The worst case scenario has to be Alaska, however. I suspect that there are
many counties accessible only by boat or private charter plane.

So next time you find yourself trying to track down a Rock Pigeon in
Wahkiakum county remind yourself that we have it comparably easy.

Here's a national map of counties in the US. Washington has relatively
large counties, compared to much of the eastern half of the US.

Josh Adams
Lynnwood, WA
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