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.