A Big Year


The birding was my salt, the thing that was missing, that essential amino acid I couldn’t get from anywhere else. It gave me life and reminded me that I was part of life. […]

Some people experience serenity by seeing their home team win, others by spending time with a loved one or racing downhill on a mountain bike. For me, it’s watching birds—seeing them, identifying them, wondering what they’re doing, marveling at their powers of navigation, or simply taking in their exquisite beauty.

I love birds.

~ Neil Hayward, “Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year


A big year is an informal competition among birders to see who can identify by sight or sound the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area.

Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn’t want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job…so instead he went birding…Neil shocked the birding world by finding 749 species of bird and breaking the long-standing Big Year record. He also surprised himself: During his time among the hummingbirds, tanagers, and boobies, he found a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his place in it. (Source: Amazon)

Photo: Bluebird by Joan Schulz via Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota


  1. I love birds too! Glad Neil changed his life 🍃🍃🌿

    Liked by 1 person

  2. what a beautiful way to find inner peace. natures provides if we just see –

    Liked by 1 person

  3. While I never took a year to do it, there was a period of my life where I spent a good bit of time simply sitting and waiting, with camera in hand, at my “bird feeding area”. It is difficult to describe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know that I have the patience for such an endeavor, but I admire the heck out of anyone who does, and this exercise was clearly ‘just what the doctor ordered’ for Mr. Hayward. There *is* something mesmerizing about birds. I sat and watched a huge hawk draft on air currents above our backyard the other day–so graceful and at the same time slightly ominous. Captivating….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can certainly relate to this. When I started taking photos of birds, I became obsessed with them. I could sit and watch them for hours. Some days I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This prompted me to go to Amazon to check out his book and I may see if the library can get me a copy. My husband and I both love just sitting on the back deck watching whoever flies in, through, and over our yard, including the bats in the evenings. It is so centering and relaxing….probably because our breathing slows and we can just be present. Love this, Dave.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. christinesat says:

    Oh, it’s so beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love his story … and hope we get bluebirds this year!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for this beautiful, encouraging post.

    Liked by 1 person

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