Bird word: Lifer

  • Lifer: the first ever time that a birder sees a species of bird it is called a “lifer”or a “tick”.

Birders are like everyone else; they love to see new things – in their case it’s new birds.

Many birders keep a life list of all the birds they have ever seen. Some of these can number in the thousands because there are potentially 9,730 birds to put on your life list (give or take a few dozen/hundred depending on which list you consult). Very few birders have reached the dizzy heights of having seen over 8000 different kinds of birds in their lifetime. And it takes a lifetime of dedication, determination, planning and quite a deal of spare time and cash. Oh – and a healthy dollop of good luck at being in the right place at the right time.

My life list is very modest; it’s in the mid 300s. I’ve not travelled extensively around the world for the purpose of birding. As a result, the chances of me seeing a “lifer” is still very high. With over 9000 species yet to see worldwide I’ll need another several lifetimes to get even near to that magical 8000 mark. Even in Australia I’ve yet to see more than half the species possible.

A “lifer” is sometimes called a “tick.” This comes from the habit of birders who make lists of species seen “ticking” off each species seen on a list.

For more articles about words associated with birds, go to my Glossary of Bird Words here.


6 Responses to “Bird word: Lifer”

  1. Thanks – I figured it means that, but wanted to make sure once and for all 🙂

  2. Trevor says:

    Thanks for visiting. Yes – it is kind of obvious – though most non-birders wouldn’t know what I was talking about. I’ve never done a survey of my readers but would estimate that probably more than half of my 20,000+ visitors every month have just a passing interest in and knowledge of birds.

  3. True.
    I guess my readers are currently getting slightly tired of all my recent bird posts 😉
    Oh well 🙂

  4. […] had a grand total of 10 lifers in an hour, two hours maximum. It was simply glorious. I didn’t last too long however, my […]

  5. […] increased the bio density. Needless to say, I was excited and practically all the birds I saw were lifers to me since I’m really new to birding. We stopped at a clearning with a small stream, along […]

  6. […] from home door to bus stop? It is just, that I don’t and I want to find out! And when I see “a lifer” it makes me feel like I am a little girl again: learning new things about surrounding nature but in […]

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