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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Video: See birder bag Big Year record, 750 species

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- 2013 wasn't just a big year, it was the biggest year in the community of hard-corder birders.

The video (above) features Neil Hayward on Dec. 28, 2013, as he entered the birding record books by identifying his 750th bird of the year. The video captures the contagious excitement as Hayward puts his camera to the trophy species, a great skua, off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Although birding at this level is hard-core, life-consuming and VERY expensive, USA Today reports that about 85 million Americans enjoy observing, photographing or feeding wild birds.

Birding ranks 15th on a list of the most popular outdoor activities, just below bicycling and beach bumming, according to the most recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment by the USDA's Forest Service.

About 18 million are serious enough to take trips exclusively to commune with other birders or count birds by sight or sound, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

Some designate Big Days — Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Team Sapsucker set a continental record of identifying 294 on April 25 — or Biggest Weeks, and a few die-hard birders embark on what they call Big Years, competitions to spot as many species as they can within a certain territory.

Members of the Spokane Audubon Society and Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society have been pooling their sightings to log their Big Year efforts.


Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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