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Academic & Professional Books  Ornithology  Birdwatching

Birding Without Borders An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World

Biography / Memoir
By: Noah Strycker(Author), Kenn Kaufman(Foreword By)
334 pages, 8 plates with colour photos
Publisher: Souvenir Press
Traveling to 41 countries in 2015 with a backpack and binoculars, Noah Strycker became the first person to see more than half the world’s 10,000 species of birds in one year
Birding Without Borders
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  • Birding Without Borders ISBN: 9781800810112 Paperback Oct 2021 In stock
  • Birding Without Borders ISBN: 9780285644151 Hardback Sep 2018 Out of Print #242937
Selected version: £10.99
About this book Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

In 2015, Noah Strycker set himself a lofty goal: to become the first person to see half the world's birds in one year. For 365 days, with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he traveled across forty-one countries and all seven continents, eventually spotting 6,042 species – by far the biggest birding year on record.

This is no travelogue or glorified checklist. Noah ventures deep into a world of blood-sucking leeches, chronic sleep deprivation, airline snafus, breakdowns, mudslides, floods, war zones, ecologic devastation, conservation triumphs, common and iconic species, and scores of passionate bird lovers around the globe. By pursuing the freest creatures on the planet, Noah gains a unique perspective on the world they share with us – and offers a hopeful message that even as many birds face an uncertain future, more people than ever are working to protect them.

Customer Reviews (1)

  • 6042 species in a year!
    By Keith 19 Jul 2019 Written for Hardback
    World year listing is not entirely new as a challenge, although it has become more competitive in recent years. In 1968 Peter Alden became the first person to see over 2000 species in a year. That was back in the days of relatively expensive air travel and at a time when information on world birding opportunities was sparse. Move forward two decades and in 1989 James Clements managed to see 3662 species. Then in 2008 Alan Davies and Ruth Miller to set another new record and passed 4000 species. In fact, they saw 4341 species – an amazing feat. But no matter how keen you are, there is nearly always someone who is keener still, and in 2015 Noah Strycker set himself another goal: to become the first person to see half the world's birds in one year. His haul of 6042 species and how he managed to see them is the subject of this book.

    Noah started his year already positioned at the bottom of the globe in Antarctica, and over the next twelve months he birded almost every day, carrying just hand-luggage and a series of one-way airline tickets. His journey took him across all seven continents and 41 countries – although not the UK!

    Helpfully, the book includes a map to show his route and it makes for fascinating reading. Having seen 53 species on his cruise north to Argentina he then travelled across eleven countries in South and Central America until early May. This strategy allowed him to add almost 2500 species to his total. To give you an idea of his work rate, Noah was adding around 20-30 new species per day and seeing amazing totals in each country – such as 784 in Peru, 749 in Colombia and 684 in Brazil.

    From here he moved to his home country – the USA. Interestingly he simply visited Texas, Arizona, California, Oregon and New York. In just 21 days he added 215 new species before heading towards Europe where he spent only 16 days and added 314 species in Iceland, Norway, Turkey, Spain and Germany. Bizarrely he only added one species in Germany – Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca! – before travelling to Africa for almost three months. On leaving Uganda for the Middle East and Asia in early September Noah had added over 1100 species and was now on a total of 4204 and just days away from drawing level with Alan and Ruth’s record. In India (on the first of two visits) Noah added 409 species before continuing across Myanmar, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. The final part of his tour from late November sees him in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and back into India. Even on New Year’s Eve he added eleven new species.

    As a keen world birder myself, I was fascinated by the route. Naturally, I would have probably have included the UK in my itinerary, but why bother when Noah saw almost every bird on the British List elsewhere? Interestingly he never caught up with Grey Partridge Perdix perdix, Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus or Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata. Among the places he did not visit I would have added Ethiopia – but I cannot fault his planning.

    I really enjoyed reading this book and found Noah’s style to be engaging and fun. I think he’d make a great birding companion. Not wanting to spoil the story I won’t reveal some of the things that he encountered. Above all I found myself impressed by his determination to keep going – and that he carried all his kit in a very well packed rucksack.

    As a postscript, as Noah ended his year on 6042 species Dutch birder Arjan Dwarshuis was just setting out to try and see 7000 species in a year. He managed to find 6833 and set yet another new record. Arjan followed IOC taxonomy which has a larger number of species. Had he followed IOC (as opposed to the Clements List) Noah would have seen 6153 species – still almost 700 species short of Arjan’s total. The magic 7000 will be broken before too long. In case you are contemplating the challenge, it is worth noting that Noah was 28 when he started on his big year and Arjan was 30. Maybe I’ll stick with day listing!
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Noah Strycker is associate editor of Birding magazine and the author of several books. He has studied birds worldwide, and works as a guide on expedition cruises to Antarctica and the Arctic, spreading the inspiration of birds from pole to pole.

Biography / Memoir
By: Noah Strycker(Author), Kenn Kaufman(Foreword By)
334 pages, 8 plates with colour photos
Publisher: Souvenir Press
Traveling to 41 countries in 2015 with a backpack and binoculars, Noah Strycker became the first person to see more than half the world’s 10,000 species of birds in one year
Media reviews

"[...] Noah Strycker considers his global big year, as told in Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World, "a celebration of birds, in all their fascinating detail, and how fun it is to watch them". Judging by how many birds he got to watch, he had a very fun year indeed. And, while not on the same level, reading about it is quite fun as well."
– Grant McCreary (05-03-2018), read the full review at The Birder's Library

"Even readers who wouldn't know a marvellous spatuletail from a southern ground hornbill will be awed by Strycker's achievement and appreciate the passion with which he pursues his interest."
Publishers Weekly

"Strycker's description of a year 'expanded to its maximum potential' will inspire readers to explore the world, 'from the tiniest detail to the biggest panorama.' [...] Colorful but unassuming – and unexpected – lessons for living life fully, presented from a birder's-eye view."
– STARRED, Kirkus Reviews

"Every generation has a few naturalist-writers who have a spirit as unlimited as their talent – that's Noah Strycker. The sheer demographics of his travels are mind boggling; he stretches life to the limits, and he has an ability to describe incidents of travel, landscapes, and people with splendid and self-deprecating intimacy. This book goes to the top of my life-list."
– Howard Norman, author of My Darling Detective

"Noah Strycker is a fantastic birder, savvy traveler, and astute observer. Best of all, though, he is a fine writer. I really enjoyed this book."
– Mark Obmascik, author of The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

"Noah Strycker's ark is big enough for six thousand birds – and then some! – but just as impressive is the way this gifted gatherer makes room for wonder, joy, and friendship found in far-flung places. This is one of those rare, beautiful books that enlarges the world with adventure and makes it feel, at the same time, like a mysteriously intimate place, inhabited by good people in love with the natural world willing to help a stranger on his extraordinary journey."
– Jonathan Rosen author of The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature

"Birding Without Borders is an absolute tour de force. Every birder knows the day-dream lure of exotic species from far-away places, but Noah Stryker turned that dream into the greatest birding adventure of all time. The story of his round-the-world Big Year is one of joy, adrenaline, exhaustion, discovery, and a global fellowship of those for whom, like Noah, birds are everything. I guarantee it will make you want to grab your binoculars and your passport, too."
– Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind

"What an astonishing peregrination. If by chance you can't meet these 6,042 species yourself, this book is a close second. Strycker is the perfect companion – smart, thoughtful, intrepid, and at times, very very funny. I loved the birds and the people he met and was sorry when his journey was over."
– Jennifer Ackerman, author of The Genius of Birds

"Birding without Borders is about bird nerdery taken to a magnificent, even beautiful extreme. Noah Strycker goes from country to country seeking out five thousand species of birds, and that quest is an adventure in itself. Armchair birders like myself, watching a Pygmy Nuthatch watching me, can appreciate the passion and courage that Noah displays."
– Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist

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