LOST AMONG THE BIRDS
Early in 2013 Neil Hayward was at a crossroads. He didn’t want to open a bakery or whatever else executives do when they quit a lucrative but unfulfilling job. He didn’t want to think about his failed relationship with “the one” or his potential for ruining a new relationship with “the next one.” And he almost certainly didn’t want to think about turning forty. And so instead he went birding.
Birding was a lifelong passion. It was only among the birds that Neil found a calm that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans. But this time he also found competition. His growing list of species reluctantly catapulted him into a Big Year–a race to find the most birds in one year. His peregrinations across twenty-eight states and six provinces in search of exotic species took him to a hoarfrost-covered forest in Massachusetts to find a Fieldfare; to Lake Havasu, Arizona, to see a rare Nutting’s Flycatcher; and to Vancouver for the Red-flanked Bluetail. Neil’s Big Year was as unplanned as it was accidental: It was the perfect distraction to life.
Neil shocked the birding world by finding 749 species of bird and breaking the long-standing Big Year record. He also surprised himself: During his time among the hummingbirds, tanagers, and boobies, he found a renewed sense of confidence and hope about the world and his place in it.
Lost Among the Birds: Accidentally Finding Myself in One Very Big Year
By Neil Hayward
Published by: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Read The Accidental Big Year, the blog that chronicled Neil’s Big Year
- eBird online article, “Big Year Birding with eBird“, Mar 24, 2015
- Guest blogger for the optics company, Leica, “Big Year. Big Skua.” and “A Big Three Hours in Magee Marsh“
- Bird Observer, “An Accidental Big Year”. Apr 2014, Vol 42, No.2