Seeing 5,000 bird species in one year?


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Watch peafowl, birds of paradise and many more interesting birds and see their magnetic nature.

From the Portland Tribune in the USA:

Put a bird on it – or maybe 5,000 of them

Thursday, 13 November 2014 06:00

Written by Jennifer Anderson

Man aiming for species-spotting record part of Wild Arts Fest

Noah Strycker has lived for months at a time in some of the most remote places on Earth — Antarctica, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, the volcano fields of Hawaii, the Amazonian Ecuador, the Australian Outback and the Farallon Islands — doing nothing but studying birds.

He’s seen thousands of species — penguins, finches, fairy-wrens, bowerbirds, mockingbirds, pelicans, albatross, hawks, crows and even the endangered Hawaiian nene.

He figures he’s observed about 2,500 species of birds on six continents, a fifth of the world’s bird species.

And he’s just getting started.

The 28-year-old Oregonian is a professional “birder at large,” a photographer, public speaker and author of two books about birding and his travels.

In January he’ll embark on an epic quest to see 5,000 species of birds by the end of the calendar year. The current, official record is 4,341, set by a British couple in 2008.

Strycker expects he’ll have no trouble crushing the record, with a plan to visit about 35 countries on all seven continents on a continuous around-the-world birding trip.

“The idea is to connect with local birders in each place to highlight stories of bird conservation and to see a ton of birds,” he says. “Nobody has even come close to 5,000 in a year before, but nobody has really tried.”

Strycker, who keeps an updated blog with bird photos from each place he’s traveled (noahstrycker.com), says he’ll keep a daily blog of his big birding year on the National Audubon Society’s main Web page (audubon.org).

After the big year, he has a book deal with Houghton Mifflin to write about the adventure.

In the meantime, Strycker will be one of the local bird-centric artists whose work will be showcased next week at the Audubon Society of Portland’s 34th annual Wild Arts Festival, a creative celebration of all things feathered.

The 70 artists and 35 authors will gather in the light-filled space at the Montgomery Park building in Northwest Portland to share their like-minded passion for birds.

All feature nature or wildlife as a subject, use natural materials as a medium, and use their art to promote environmental sustainability.

As in past years, there will be novelists, photographers, poets, children’s authors, nonfiction writers and visual art of all kinds.

The annual 6×6 Wild Art Project is a compilation of bird-themed paintings done by 200 artists on a 6-inch square canvas. The project’s theme this year is “yard birds.”

Each canvas will be available for sale.

Strycker will be promoting his second and latest book, “The Thing With Feathers,” published in March, detailing the secret lives of birds and their connection to humanity.

His first book, “Among Penguins,” 2011, documents his time living with 300,000 penguins in Antarctica at the age of 24.

Wandering the hills

One of the most famous authors at the Wild Arts Festival, meanwhile, will be Ursula Le Guin, the 85-year-old science fiction novelist who lives in Portland.

Le Guin this week will be receiving a National Book Association award considered one of literature’s most prestigious honors.

She’s being honored with a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which recognizes individuals who have made an exceptional impact on the country’s literary heritage.

Raised in Napa Valley in the 1930s and ‘40s, Le Guin says she was especially influenced by her summers of solitude and silence, “a teenager wandering the hills on my own, no company, ‘nothing to do,’ were very important to me. I think I started making my soul then.”

Her stories — set in imaginary “subworlds” — grew out of her experiences, Le Guin says.

For example her first trip to the Eastern Oregon desert led to “The Tombs of Atuan.”

She checks her science facts, but “most of my research is into the geography of my own imagination,” she says. Le Guin says she started writing when she was 5 years old and never stopped.

‘Study ourselves’

For Strycker, he started watching birds at age 10 and never stopped. He recalls when his fifth-grade teacher suction-cupped a bird feeder on their classroom window.

“The other kids in my class thought birds were pretty dumb,” Strycker says. But he was hooked. “You never know where that spark will come from,” he says.

He’s been able to make a full-time living of his pursuits, funding most of his traveling through the National Science Foundation and other agencies.

In Antarctica, he worked as a seasonal guide on an expedition cruise ship. He now earns an income through his writing, speaking, expeditions and other bird-related projects.

In addition to his literary work — as associate editor of Birding magazine and contributor to about a dozen different bird-related publications — he is a five-time marathoner and completed the entire Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada in four months in 2011.

There’s a reason, Stycker and other artists say, that they are driven to put a bird on it.

“I think that, by studying birds, we also study ourselves,” says Strycker, who lives in Creswell, just outside of Eugene. “Directly, there are many parallels between bird and human behavior (perhaps more than we like to admit). More than that, for me, birds are an entry point to the outdoors and all kinds of adventures. They take us to places we’d never go otherwise.”

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