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eBirding the World Big Year – May Update

Rose-bellied Bunting was one of the species Noah added in May

In 2015, Noah Strycker is attempting to become the first person to see 5000 species of birds—about half of the avian species on Earth—in one calendar year! Noah is now nearing the halfway point of 365 straight days of birding around the globe, with an itinerary covering 34 countries and all seven continents, on one continuous, all-out, global birding trip. To date he has covered Antarctica, South, and Central America, tallying a fantastic 2701 species – over halfway to his goal. Noah is using eBird to keep track of his sightings and to help strategize during his quest, as well as to connect with many other birders as he travels. You can see his daily blog accounts on Birding Without Borders. He has been kind enough to write up a summary of his travels for us each month – you can find his notes from May here!

This month I birded through parts of Guatemala, southern and northern Mexico, Texas, Arizona, California, and Oregon. In May I submitted 265 eBird checklists and saw 710 species of birds, 352 of which were new for the year, bringing my cumulative 2015 total to 2701.

Noah takes a local fishing boat to look for seabirds off Oaxaca, Mexico.

Noah takes a local fishing boat to look for seabirds off Oaxaca, Mexico

I’m about to make the biggest transition of the big year: On June 8 I’ll hop the pond from North America to Europe, and will spend the rest of 2015 in the eastern hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia). This switch will almost be like starting over, as the two hemispheres share very few bird species, and I’m psyched to start racking up birds again! The past several weeks have been relatively deliberate, tracking down one target bird at a time. I saw most of the North American migrants on their wintering grounds earlier this year and found many residents in Mexico and Central America, so, by the time I reached the U.S. in mid-May, I’d already seen most of the common birds.

Some of Noah's boarding passes from the first five months of this year!

Some of Noah’s boarding passes from the first five months of this year!

Things are on track to hit my goal of 5,000 birds this year, assuming the rest of the year goes as smoothly as have the first five months. I found my 2,500th bird (a Common Poorwill in Durango, Mexico) on May 16, well ahead of schedule. Of course, anything could happen!

Noah’s 2,500th year bird was this Common Poorwill in Durango, Mexico, on May 16. Photo by Noah.

In late May I spent several days at home in Oregon, the only time this year I will be able to sleep in my own bed. It was a well-timed “rest” (I also saw more than 50 new birds in Oregon!), nearly halfway through the year and near the end of my time in the New World. Looking ahead, the next few months will be decidedly more exotic – immersed in very foreign cultures, strange bird families, and awesome natural landscapes, and my energy level is up for it. One year is so short, I try to squeeze every moment, but it’s going by so fast! It’s hard to believe five months have passed already. Only seven months to go…

Noah scopes for Tufted Puffins on the Oregon coast.

Noah scopes for Tufted Puffins on the Oregon coast