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A Big Year of Birding

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

I don’t know how many of you have seen The Big Year starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson. It’s about birders who try to see as many different bird species as possible in one year; I recommend it.

David Pavlik has embarked on a Big Year to help save birds in Hawaii. Flying overhead is a seabird called a Jaeger.

I also recommend following David Pavlik, a biologist, photographer and birdwatcher who is doing a different take on a Big Year. The Michigan native hopes to raise money to conserve rare birds by finding sponsors who will donate between $0.05 and $5 for every bird species he spots and photographs in 2013.  At the end of 2013, he plans on giving the money he raised to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), a leading U.S. bird conservation group.

ABC will spend this money on programs designed to save rare Hawaiian birds from extinction. Pavlik chose Hawaii after learning that Hawaii has been dubbed the “bird extinction capital of the world.”

While most of us think of Hawaii as a lush tropical state,  ABC says that no place else on earth has witnessed the levels of bird extinctions that Hawaii has experienced. Since the arrival of Europeans to the Hawaiian Islands, 71 endemic bird species have become extinct out of a total of 113 that existed just prior to human colonization. Of the remaining 42, 32 are federally listed, and ten of those have not even been seen for up to 40 years.

Last year, Pavlik spotted more than 600 different bird species. “Photographing those species, however, is much more of a challenge,” he says. “By the end of this year, I hope to photograph 500 species or more.”

In order for a bird to “count,” it will need to be identifiable from the picture, he explained. Some species of birds are extremely difficult to identify without hearing them call or knowing the location where the photo was taken. He says he will post the location that each photograph was taken if it helps resolve those pesky identifications. He may also try to take video of birds that can only be identified by voice.

You can join him virtually on his adventures by visiting his website.  You can also sign up and donate there too.

13 comments to A Big Year of Birding

  • James

    What a great thing to do. I wish David a lot of luck.

  • Eliot

    Great story, and I will be following him.

  • Mary

    I love how you find these interesting people to profile.

  • Kelly

    What an uplifting and generous way to help Hawaiian birds. Thank you for this post.

  • Heidi

    What a generous person David Pivlik is. Thank you for this post.

  • Jackie

    We just started birding, and love it. It’s a great way to teach kids about nature too. And we all saw “The Big Year.” It is a good movie. Thanks for letting us know about David.

  • Adrienne

    Great site you have here Michele! I’m a birder and it is true that Hawaii has the worst rates for birds. It is sad. But I am encouraged by reading about David.

  • Nancy

    I also think of Hawaii as a tropical paradise. This is sad, but good that there are people out there like David Pivlik. I am going to follow his “Big Year.”

  • Carol

    Now, this is a worthwhile way to donate. I love birds, and love what David is doing.

  • Paula

    Thanks for sharing this Michele. Thanks for writing about birds and birding. I love that your site covers cats, dogs, birds, and wildlife. It isn’t too narrow, and it is well written.

  • Thanks Paula, I appreciate your kind words. Best, Michele

  • Susan

    Thanks for covering birding. I was surprised to learn that Hawaii was the bird extinction capital of the world. Scary.

  • Heather

    Us birders love that you cover birds as pets. Birds are a great teaching tool for all of us–especially kids. They can care for the birds in their backyards.