Wednesday, January 02, 2008

BIGBY for 2008

BIGBY stands for "Big Green Big Year." The concept of a green big year grew out of discussions on listserves and blogs about the impact of listing on climate change. The amount of greenhouse gases that most birding trips add to the atmosphere is probably relatively small compared to other sources. However, it seems good for birders to be mindful of how their hobby affects the environment.

The writers behind the Sparrowworking blog came up with some criteria for a green year list. The list should include only bird species seen in locations reached by foot, self-propelled vehicle, or public transportation. The "self-propelled" category can include canoes and skis, though it primarily refers to bicycles. So far 118 birders have signed up to attempt a BIGBY this year.

This type of undertaking is going to be easier for some birders than others. City-based birders should have a decided advantage. Those in New York City, in particular, have access to a dense public transportation network that links to some very good birding sites. Birders in DC can bird by Metro. People living in suburban areas are likely to have a harder time, since 20th-century housing developments were generally not designed to be walkable and transportation options are more limited.

I decided to compile a list of birds I see while meeting the BIGBY requirements. In about half a year of birding, I saw 93 species within walking distance in 2007. That figure does not include spring migration, when most species are easier to find and identify by voice. Plus, an occasional birding trip by public transportation is a real possibility. So for 2008, I should be able to build a good BIGBY list.