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In 1998, Greg zig-zagged 130,000 miles across the USA, while trying to hold down a full-time job, aspiring to reach at least 700 species of birds in one calendar year. "The Big Year," a novel by Mark Obmascik detailed his travails alongside two competitors. The book was later turned into a movie of the same title that starred Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson!

Southeast Arizona – Day 1

Catalina State Park near Tucson AZ
Catalina State Park near Tucson AZ – photo by Greg Miller


Day 1 of my Big Year Tour to Southeast Arizona started today! I am totally excited to be back in this fabulous birding area. With stunning scenery and magnificent birds this region of the country is just plain magical.

This is the 7th of 11 one-week tours this year as we attempt to see half of all the species in North America–with participants. And, we are raising money and awareness about American Birding Association’s Young Birders, too!

Today Chris Brown and I finished participating in the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival. Meanwhile, Steve Ritt was picking up our tour participants from the airport. Everyone had arrived and we all convened in late afternoon. We quickly checked into our hotel and then…we went birding.

We headed a short distance north to Catalina State Park to do some desert birding in 98-degree heat. There were a fair number of birds active. We tallied 45 species this evening before dark. Cool birds included Greater Roadrunner, Gilded Flicker, Gray Flycatcher, both Ash-throated and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting, and Blue Grosbeak. On the way out of the park after sunset a few Lesser Nighthawks joined the many Mexican Free-tailed Bats in flight, feeding over scrubby landscape. What a treat!

I’ll update the official online list later. It’s already 11:22pm and we’re getting up quite early tomorrow to head east. It will be a big day. We hope to search for some rare birds in the southern Huachuca Mountains and then finish up at Portal on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains. We should see many¬†fantastic birds tomorrow!

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