The Big Year

The Big Year

A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

Book - 2004
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Every year on January 1, a quirky crowd of adventurers storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year -- a grand, grueling, expensive, and occasionally vicious, "extreme" 365-day marathon of birdwatching.For three men in particular, 1998 would be a whirlwind, a winner-takes-nothing battle for a new North American birding record. In frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities that can make or break their lead, the birders race each other from Del Rio, Texas, in search of the rufous-capped warbler, to Gibsons, British Columbia, on a quest for Xantus's hummingbird, to Cape May, New Jersey, seeking the offshore great skua. Bouncing from coast to coast on their potholed road to glory, they brave broiling deserts, roiling oceans, bug-infested swamps, a charge by a disgruntled mountain lion, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man.The unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a new record -- one so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested...finding and identifying an extraordinary 745 different species by official year-end count. Prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a rollicking, dazzling narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to the finish to claim the title in the greatest -- or maybe the worst -- birding contest of all time. With an engaging, unflappably wry humor, Obmascik memorializes their wild and crazy exploits and, along the way, interweaves an entertaining smattering of science about birds and their own strange behavior with a brief history of other bird-men and -women; turns out even Audubon pushed himself beyond the brink when he was chasing and painting the birds of America. A captivating tour of human and avian nature, passion and paranoia, honor and deceit, fear and loathing, The Big Year shows the lengths to which people will go to pursue their dreams, to conquer and categorize -- no matter how low the stakes. This is a lark of a read for anyone with birds on the brain -- or not.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, c2004
ISBN: 9780743245456
Branch Call Number: 598.07234 OBM
Characteristics: 268 p. ;,24 cm


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SPPL_János Mar 19, 2018

Every year hardcore birdwatchers scramble throughout the continental United States in a quest called a Big Year: an attempt to spot and identify—on their honor—as many bird species as possible. Not only must they track down every native species, no matter how rare or inaccessible, but must fly on a moment's notice when the word goes out that a non-native bird has been blown in by storm, wanderlust, or confusion. Obmascik recounts the Big Year of 1998, when three very different birders vied for the longest species list, a list so long the ultimate winner's record may never be broken. Obmascik paints a vivid portrait of hardcore birders past and present, and of nature, obsession, and competition.

Mar 01, 2017

I am not a birder, but this is one of my most enjoyable, entertaining and informative reads in a while, especially on human nature.


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Feb 12, 2012

This book follows 3 characters as they attempt to win a Big Year, by spotting the most species of birds in North America over one year. This book was the basis for the 2011 film "The Big Year" with Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black.

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