About this blog

The intention of the Birding for Devils blog was to provide trip reports recounting a 'big year' of birding throughout the American Birding Association (ABA) North American region during the 2016 calendar year. As implied by the title, there’s more to the Birding for Devils blog than documenting a year of searching the North American landscape for birds. The intention was to occasionally cajole readers into supporting Devil Ark – an important conservation breeding facility for the endangered Tasmanian Devil that I'm involved in. Click here to learn more about the Birding for Devils fundraising campaign and how you can contribute through Devil Ark’s US-based fundraising partner Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) www.globalwildlife.org. All donations are tax deductible, and are applied in their absolute entirety to the maintenance and ongoing expansion of the Devil Ark facility. You can view a short promotional video about this worthy project here.

Why an ABA North American big year?
As an ex-pat Yank, I migrated to Australia in the early 80s largely to pursue a deep fascination for Australia’s mysterious herpetofauna. Although I've always had an interest in birds and birding, my wildlife-related interests were undoubtedly focused in the scaly direction until about a dozen years ago, when the birding bug shifted up a gear or two. After that I found myself re-visiting many remote regions across the Australian continent that I ‘thought’ I knew, more thoroughly investigating the above-ground fauna of the great island continent. The increasing frequency of my birding trips culminated in a full-blown Australian Big Year of birding in 2012 during which time I enjoyed many encounters with a crazy number of bird species.

But even that heavenly year wasn’t enough to stay the addiction for long – so
I went about convincing my  long-suffering wife Robyn along with my other co-managers at the Australian Reptile Park to allow me a second ‘once in a lifetime’ birding odyssey in 2014. This time around I finished the year seeing even more of the Australian continent, islands and territories and an even crazier number of birds (770 species 50 ahead of the best effort of earlier Aussie Big Year birders - not that there have been many of us) while accumulating an almost unfathomably rich and satisfying collection of experiences and memories along the way. An article from Birdlife Australia recounting my 2014 Aussie big year is presented here.

The mighty King Penguins of Australia’s Macquarie Island, representing my final ‘Aussie big year’ bird for 2014.    
I hadn’t long returned to the ‘real world’ in early 2015 when, despite the best of intentions, my mind began predictably wandering once again into unhealthy territory. For a while I relied upon the excuse of any reported vagrant bird species to hop on a plane or make a long drive to get my 'fix'. Then, after reading the suite of books recounting ABA Big Years, I was hooked. 2016 would be the year I’d cross the Pacific and embark on the ‘real deal’ of year-listing: an ABA North American big year! Apart from the obvious but hopefully avoidable risks of financial ruin and family dissolution, why not? Besides, if I could raise awareness and funding for Devil Ark at the same time, I’d have been a mug not to go. Right?

Preparing for my Big Year was half the fun, and the wealth of available resources is staggering - providing me with plenty of entertaining learning activities throughout 2015.