After exhausting myself and putting WAY too many miles on my car during my New York State 2007 Big Year I need to scale back for 2008. Inspired by guilt, Al Gore, Bigby, and my upcoming move to The Big Apple (sometime in February) I will be doing an Anti-Global Warming Big Year for 2008. What the heck do I mean by that? Well, click below to find out!

I like to bird. I like to bird a lot. I like seeing rare birds, common birds, native birds and introduced birds. But sometimes I have a hard time getting myself out of bed. Or I don’t feel like traveling hundreds of miles for a rarity. So I need something to force me to get out of my comfy bed and go birding. At the same time I don’t want to continue to drive all over the place chasing rarities because of the cost to my soul, my wallet, the planet, and, once I move to Queens, I probably won’t have a car anymore anyway. So why not challenge myself to see as many birds as I can without relying on an automobile? After all, I’ll be living in a city with one of the finest mass transit systems in the world AND some of the best birding locations anywhere. By combining the two I’ll have my Anti-Global Warming Big Year with a hoped for total of at least 250 birds (heck, if Charlie can see 1,000 birds world-wide next year I can see 250 without birding by car, right?).

How the heck do I plan on making 250 birds? Well, first off, I need to establish the rules for my big year which are:

  1. I will only count birds identified by me (by ear or by eye).
  2. I will only count birds in locations I reach by foot, bicycle, skateboard, train, dog-sled, bus, ferry, pogo-stick, or any combination of the above.
  3. If I am staying at a place for more than a couple of days I can use that place as a base to start my birding trips from, even if I reached that location by car or other non-accepted means of transport, but only if I offset the carbon emitted getting there.
  4. Whenever possible, I will get a recognizable photograph of the birds I see, and, of course, blog about them.
  5. I will donate $1.00 (U.S.) for each and every bird that makes the list to a conservation cause that I will determine shortly (if anyone wants to make a pledge per bird or offer a suggestion for the conservation cause, contact me or put it in the comments).

Rule number three might make more sense when I explain that I’m staying at Daisy’s sister’s and brother-in-law’s house in southern California during the first two weeks of the year and they have a small under-birded park just a block away from their house…which should help me a great deal in my quest for 250 birds. The carbon offsetting idea came from 10,000 Birds very own Charlie, who is offsetting the carbon he is producing during his Big Year with a pretty cool organization called TreeFlights.

And don’t get me wrong; if some amazingly rare bird shows up somewhere that I can’t reach without catching a ride with someone (and someone is nice enough to offer a ride once I am car-less) I will definitely go see the bird, I just won’t count it or any other bird I see on the trip.

I think I can do it. I hope I can anyway. Either way, I’ll feel better about my birding and will hopefully raise some awareness, both about our effect on the earth’s climate and the ease with which one can see good birds without a car.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.