[Tweeters] Extreme Birding Competition Is a Cutthroat Test of Skill, Strategy and Endurance - Scientific American

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 16 21:34:26 PDT 2021

Dear Paul and Tweeters,
Some day I hope to see a measly 300 species in one calendar year in Washington! I figured I'd do that as soon as I retired, but tiny viruses intervened. Meanwhile, I just keep to my Skagit patch.
The question of countable birds is not really a matter for jerk birders alone--not that you are one, Paul! I remember one year I had a phone call with another birder, with whom I'd been vying for a big Skagit County year. We made an agreement ahead of time, as to what to count and what not to count. We agreed not to count the Northwestern Crow and the Ring-necked Pheasant, as I recall.
For the life of me I can't figure out why the Ring-necked Pheasant should "count" in places such as Skagit County, where they don't breed in the wild. Thirty years of birding here, and 2021 is the first year I've seen a hen pheasant with young in the wild in Skagit. Those were the five chicks that my neighbor's hen pheasant had reared in a backyard pen. He released them, and the babies got picked off by predators one by one, in a matter of two or three months. Now there is just the hen, eking out an existence by visiting my bird feeders, while somehow evading the Bald Eagles and coyotes. To the best of my knowledge, every Ring-necked Pheasant that I have ever seen in Skagit County was raised in a pen and released so that hunters could shoot it--with the exception of my neighbor's pheasants, which were released for reasons beyond the scope of this message.
I could add quite a bunch of species to my Skagit list, if I wanted to count such species as Ring-necked Pheasant, Chukar, Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite, Helmeted Guineafowl, White-cheeked Pintail, Muscovy Duck, and so forth. Heck, I could throw in Red Junglefowl, since I've seen those in the wild, too, after people have released unwanted chickens and roosters here and there. 
The only species of this ilk that gives me pause is the Mute Swan. I believe that we get the occasional Mute Swan that comes down from British Colombia, where I think there is still a viable population of feral birds. The reason that we are not supposed to count Mute Swans is because they are "bad." 

I am glad that I never counted any of the Mandarin Ducks that I saw in North America. It was very satisfying to tick them at long last, when I came across a few of them in South Korea.
The Monk Parakeet is a more complicated case. There are established populations in the US. To count or not count the tiny population in Washington--is it in Yacolt?--that would require some careful thought. 
The ABA has for many years published a set of standards for what is countable and what is not. I wish eBird would follow it; I hope cutthroat birding competitors do.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch

On Thursday, September 16, 2021, 06:08:46 PM PDT, Paul Baerny <pbaerny at gmail.com> wrote:

Great article. For those interested. There are some great big years going on in Washington this year. I believe that Rafeal Fennimore is approaching a King Co. record. And it looks like 3 birders, and maybe more may exceed 350 for the state this year. For those of us that have tried state big years “Awsome numbers”.
Now the jerk birder in me would love to put out for discussion. Should we count escapees  as well as birds that have been considered non countable in the state. Mandarin Duck, and Monk Parakeet for example. Someone could put Indian Peafowl on their Ebird list and it would count.
I realize it’s each individuals list to put any bird on that they want.
But when it comes to big day/ big year competitions? Shouldn’t the competitors be following the same set of rules. I’m really interested in what other’s have to say about this topic.
I just fell off my soapbox and my foot really hurts.
  Paul Baerny

Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 16, 2021, at 4:27 PM, Dan Reiff <dan.owl.reiff at gmail.com> wrote:


> Interesting.

> Dan Reiff

> MI


> https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/extreme-birding-competition-is-a-cutthroat-test-of-skill-strategy-and-endurance/



> Sent from my iPhone

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