Carbon neutral birding – the BIGBY

Happy New Year to all my readers. A whole new year of exciting birding possibilities ahead of us. Now where should I go to see the best and most birds?

I sometimes feel a little guilty travelling long distances in order to visit special birding spots. Not that I do it all that often, but I certainly have been known to travel by car in order to pursue my passion. I must admit that in recent times of high fuel prices that I have been somewhat more concerned about the cost to my wallet rather than any great concern about the environment. I can change my ways. A little. If I try. Carbon neutral birding – that’s the way to go.

A group of American birders have joined a special cause called The Big Green Big Year or BIGBY. Some birders have given themselves over to the pursuit of a “Big Year” where they try to see as many birds as possible in a single year. Some of these have even written books about their experiences. Most – if not all – have involved plenty of travel – in cars, trains, buses, planes and boats. This Big Year is different.

For your sightings to qualify as counting towards BIGBY, all birding must be accomplished on foot – within walking distance of home or your workplace. There is also a category where a bicycle can be used, and another where public transport is used. (It’s going to travel the route whether or not you are on board.)

This is a low-key, friendly bit of birding rivalry that is not especially original but which seems appropriate in these days of carbon emissions and climate change. If you have ever felt even a tiny bit guilty about driving or flying to see a good bird (or several) why not join us in a year of carbon-neutral birding?

The Big Green Big Year has the acronym BGBY and is therefore pronounced Bigby* … and it is simply a Big Year in which you only count those species seen within walking or cycling distance of your home or principle place of work. As simple as that, no dashing off to the far corners of the planet burning fossil fuels as you go.

Richard Gregson, Baie d’Urfé, Québec (Bigby coordinator)

So there you go. I can be a simple as just counting the birds in your garden, or from the office window.

I am going to be registering here as the first from Australia to do so. Why not join me? It can be fun and the exercise and fresh air will do us all good, an added bonus.

Further reading:

  • The Big Twitch – an hilarious account of how Sean Dooley broke an Australian birding record.

One of the first birds I recorded this year was a Crested Pigeon coming to drink from the bird bath in our garden (see photo below).

Crested Pigeon

Crested Pigeon


4 Responses to “Carbon neutral birding – the BIGBY”

  1. Richard says:

    … thanks very much for publicising the Bigby, getting the word outside of North America can be hard work and your mention will hopefully help to get the more civilised parts of the world signing up.

    Just one, tongue in cheek, comment … the majority of Bigbyists are, it is true, Americans but the concept began in Canada and though we love our southern neighbours dearly Canadians are not Americans !!

    Had to get that off my chest – looking forward to hundreds of Australian Bigbyists signing up in the next short while.

  2. […] on the heels of the BIGBY (The Big Green Big Year) where a group of birders is going carbon neutral for at least some of their birding, I find out […]

  3. Trevor says:

    Hi there Richard,

    Sorry, sorry, sorry – I should have realised.

    New Zealanders have the same reaction to their cousins on the “mainland” across the big ditch (Australia).

    And South Australians feel the same way about their cousins over the border in Victoria, Tasmanians about those living on the island to the north, and Melbournians about Sydneysiders.

    Those living in Queensland thumb their noses at all of us “Mexicans” down south and people living in Perth and Western Australia are living in an entirely different world.

  4. […] the beginning of the year I joined the BIGBY – the Big Green Big Year. Carbon neutral birding seems a good thing to do. I was planning on getting a lot fitter this year […]

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