Final count: 404 !
Happy New Year! Well, I did it. I finished 2018 with 404 species. 407 if you count a memorable backpacking trip in Canada. At the beginning of 2018 I set out to find and identify 400 species of birds in the US without any major travel beyond what our family had already planned. The travel plan was basically a long winter driving loop from Minnesota to Arizona, across the south to Florida, and back home. Then some birding trips around Minnesota and the Dakotas.
You probably have 2 questions:
First, there is no official way to prove bird identifications, so did I cheat? I am confident all the species identifications and the count are correct. So no, not in that respect. But I did take a December trip to the east coast planned on January 1, when I set the goal to do it without any significant additional major travel. Luckily Jeff (son) bought a house in New Hampshire in October, so this helicopter Dad jumped at the chance to go visit and help with a couple of DIY projects. Certainly birds were also on my mind when I booked the trip. The Atlantic shore provided those last few species to push past 400.
Second, 404! This must be a huge accomplishment! Some kind record, right? NOPE. The all-time ABA area Big Year record was set in 2016. It’s 821! In fact, according to ebird.org my 404 was only the 530th best of 2018. 2018 was very fun. But nothing more than a “mini big year”. I’m happy with that. Thanks for following along. Happy birding.
Favorite bird of the year? There are way too many to mention. So many memories. But no matter how rare or hard to find every species still counts as just one.