The Great Species Hunt

This blog knows the world total as 10,347 birds but other taxonomies and other times held it to be lower. Dan Koeppel’s book, To See Every Bird on Earth, has the target below 10,000 but even so, his father aimed for it. Therein lies the strength of the book: it has a quest; it has obstacles; it’s a story, unlike much nature writing. I loved it.

If you check Surfbirds’ life list rankings, you won’t find Richard Koeppel’s total of over 7,200 – that would put him about 21st in the world – but he wasn’t that much of an establishment type. You will find Tom Gullick streets ahead of the competition on 8,792.

Stop and think about that.

Nearly 85% of the world’s birds.

I stand at just over 10% in fifteen years of casual to middling birding. That last phrase is key to the whole business: the huge tallies’ driver is obsession, the third element that makes the book such a good read – a fatal flaw. Every hero needs one.

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