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A Year's Worth of Birds

Keep a list of all the birds you see this year!

Phoebe Snetsinger saw more than 8,400 species of birds in her lifetime! And she doesn't even hold the record. You don't have to keep a list to enjoy birds, but the variety you see in your own yard might surprise you. Start a list now, and keep track of a year's worth of birds. If you're lucky, perhaps you'll see a Snowy Owl, like this one. In this show, you can hear the Swainson's Thrush and the American Robin.

See Related Resources, below, for checklists of birds.

Full Transcript

A Year’s Worth of Birds

Written by Ellen Blackstone

This is BirdNote!

[Song of the Swainson’s Thrush]

There’s no World Series or Super Bowl of birding. But a woman named Phoebe Snetsinger saw more than 8,400 species of birds out of nearly 10,000 in the world. She didn’t start birding until she was 34 years old. But when her doctor told her she had one year to live, she stepped up her mission to see as many birds as she could. She ultimately traveled to seven continents — and lived 17 more years!

Most people don’t pursue birding with this much zeal. But lots of people keep lists: yard lists — the birds they’ve seen in their yards, trip lists — when they travel, even state lists. Some serious birders undertake the “Big Year,” going all out to see as many birds as they can from January 1st through December 31st. In a year like that, birding becomes more than a hobby.

[Alert call of the American Robin]

You don’t have to keep a list to enjoy birds, but the variety you can see and hear in your own neighborhood could surprise you. For example, in this BirdNote, we’ve been hearing the Swainson’s Thrush and the American Robin, two members of the thrush family.

This might be a good time to start a list of birds you see and hear throughout the coming year. For an inventory of birds that might visit your back yard, come to our website,

[American Robin’s morning song]

I’m Mary McCann.

Song of the Swainson’s Thrush and American Robin provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Swainson’s Thrush recorded by G.A. Keller, American Robin by W.L. Hershberger.
Ambient track of dawn songs and alarm calls recorded by C. Peterson
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to     December 2016/2018     Narrator:  Mary McCann

ID: 122905bigyearKPLU      bigyear-01b-2010-01-03-MM

Sights & Sounds

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