Eddie Ehrman, a customer of ours from Ohio, and his 10-year-old son, Liam, are in the heart of their Big Year: a year of counting birds. We just had to share his adventure with you! You can follow this father-and-son team in their adventures on their blog at this link. First, scroll down here for a little background information Eddie provided us. Then follow their blog and support these guys in their Big Year! ~Nina
My name is Eddie and my son Liam and I are doing an ABA North America “Big Year”. Liam is 10 years old and has been birding with me for 4 years. You may assume we are doing a “Big Year” as a direct result of the movie by the same title that was showing at the end of 2011. While partially true as it was the catalyst peaking Liam’s interest and prompting us to start in 2012, the whole truth isn’t as simple as that.
Liam’s first “birding” trip with me was at the end of the summer in 2008 when he was just 6. I had just spent the entire summer, every day, birding North Dakota for work and was amped for more. We went to Southeast Arizona to see the hummingbirds at the end of summer and had quite an adventure. Since then he has always wanted to go on trips with Dad and over the years has gained more interest in the birding aspect of the trips. That trip to Arizona is the real reason we are doing a “Big Year” together. During that and since, I have realized the tremendous benefit of such time spent together as father and son. I realize that we are creating lifetime memories and he is getting an amazing experiential education along the way.
For me, doing a “Big Year” is not a journey of self awareness or a trip founded in the love of birds. It is a game. A real life scavenger hunt for living treasure and an excuse to spend time with my son and go see the country! It is only May and we have already been so many places and had so much fun that if we had to stop tomorrow it would have already been worth it.
We started the year in South Texas because it is South Texas. Not to mention, Bentsen Rio Grande State Park was hosting a Code 5 Black-vented Oriole! We got the oriole and also Brown Jay, Tropical Parula, Crimson-collared Grosbeak and Golden-crowned Warbler which were all Code 3 or better. Honestly, we went to South Texas unprepared for a “Big Year” and unprepared for a new birding area in which we weren’t familiar with the local birds. The learning curve was steep and being out of our element made for some bird identification problems and likely missed birds. From that trip on we have prepared better in many ways such as listening to tapes of calls over and over on our way to locations. When we heard Nutting’s Flycatcher in Arizona we knew it! We were rusty and slow out of the gate but are much more on our game now. Time is fleeting in our situation and seems a metaphor for life.
Doing a “Big Year” for us feels just like any other game. Our objective is to see as many birds as we can. We started for the fun of it but as in any other game, if you have a competitive spirit as we do you want to do your best and try to “win” or “break the record”.
The record is 748 and was set in 1998. Our goal is 750 in 2012. Can it be done? Yes. Will we break the record? I have no idea, but it’s gonna be a blast trying!