Yellowstone Reports

Printer-friendly version

The Big Year

Well, really only ten days
by Dan Hartman

Aug. 10, 2017

      My youngest daughter, Cassie and her husband, Kevin, headed home today after a ten day visit.  Home being Philidelphia.

     When they arrived ten days ago, they brought with them a new hobby and passion.


     Now, to be honest, I've never been a big fan of check listing birds.  Bird groups I've been associated with find a bird, identify it, then move on to the next one.  I like finding a bird, then sticking with it to see how it nests, feeds, survives.

     But, Cassie and Kevin brought along a movie for me to watch and it instantly changed my outlook.

     The movie:  "The Big Year", starred Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson.  It pits birders against each other in a competition to see who could find the most birds in North America in a calendar year.  The movie really was more than just birding, but thats what got my juices flowing!

     Cassie and Kevin started on July 1st and had 50 species when they arrived.  For the next ten days we scoured the area around our cabin to see how many more they could add.

     We found pipits and black rosey finches on Beartooth Pass, dusky grouse, clarks nutcrackers and a ferruginous hawk up the fire tower road.  Ruddy ducks and sandpipers at Ruddy Duck Lake.  Surprise!

     Kestrels, mountain bluebirds and red-naped sapsuckers in the foothills of the Beartooths.

     A great horned owl chick north of Gardiner.  Golden eagles on the way to Cody along with western meadow larks.  There were western tanagers, pine grosbeaks, red breasted nuthatches, hairy woodpeckers, american coots, northern harriers and many more until they added over 60 more to their list.

     I know the record is in the high 700's for the whole year.  And it makes me wonder if it could be topped.  It would take a lot of research and commitment to travel to distant locations when the birding would be at its peak.

     And of course it would require money.

     Still, it makes one wonder.


View slide show


Mallard Ducks

Great Horned Owl Chick

Red Naped Sapsucker

Cliff Swallow

Sand Piper

Cassie, Kelly And Kevin

White Crowned Sparrow