Birder's Guide

OCT 2015

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 13 of 35

ABA 700 Before 70 12 Birder's Guide to Listing and Taxonomy | October 2015 few years ago, after I cleaned up my ABA- Area life list spreadsheet, I realized I was within the reachable goal of 700. There would even be a touch of symmetry if I did this before my seventieth birthday. So for the last few months of 2013, I dashed around the U.S. flling in the blanks. On a few occasions, the stars aligned. I added the Common Cuckoo in Watsonville, Cali- fornia; the Spotted Redshank at Goose Pond in Indiana; and the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail at Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico. But there was little fun in getting to 695 by way of a Sage Sparrow split. When the bird alerts started to ramp up with invasions and wanderers, I decided to use some frequent fyer miles. Unfortunately, these were solo trips because my pitiful friends could not drop all for a chase. The Quest As I settled into my seat for the fight to Arizona from Chicago, I saw an obvious birder coming down the aisle. You know what I mean: he was dressed to hit the ground running. As he passed, I asked, "Are you going for the Sinaloa or the booby?" He laughed and answered, "Both." We convinced his seatmate to change places, and Dedrick Benz, my newest friend, and I spent the entire fight working on our ground strategies. When he realized I was pushing toward my ABA 700, we laughed about a bizarre new addition to the ABA list—a species then called Nutmeg Mannikin (now called Scaly- breasted Munia). I had seen the bird in Thailand and did not want this nonnative species as #700 on my ABA list. Dedrick was meeting buddies and going directly to California's Salton Sea for the Blue- footed Booby; I was heading to Tubac, Arizona. Ultimately, I spent too many hours in Tubac with a surly Sinaloa Wren that refused to be seen. I love to hear birds—but not as lifers. After an entire eve- ning and morning with this diffcult and (for me) invisible wren, I headed east to Sierra Vista and an- other Sinaloa Wren that locals said was more coop- erative. The dawn of October 2013 saw me at the gates of Fort Huachuca and face-to-face with the possible ramifcations of a government shutdown. After a brief scare, I got through the gate and regis- A Perpetually confused by tree identifcation, the author preferred her mimosa in a glass as she celebrated #700. Sinaloa Wren. Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Photo © Laurens Halsey Blue-footed Booby. Salton Sea, California. Photo © Sandra Gilchrist ABA 700 Before 70 ABA 700 Before 70 696 697

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