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Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,036 ratings  ·  231 reviews
Traveling to 41 countries in 2015 with a backpack and binoculars, Noah Strycker became the first person to see more than half the world’s 10,000 species of birds in one year.

In 2015, Noah Strycker set himself a lofty goal: to become the first person to see half the world’s birds in one year. For 365 days, with a backpack, binoculars, and a series of one-way tickets, he tr
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Gunnar Engblom
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading Noah Strycker’s Birding Without Boarders an obsession. Noah sets out to do a big year around the world in 2015 and records a mind-blowing 6042 species and shattering the old record.

Yet another Big Year book for birders? I am wondering if the literary market is soon going to be saturated with Big Year travel stories. Is it really that interesting to follow someone traveling the world one bird at the time? Your average Joe will not get away with something like this. However, Noa
I enjoyed this memoir much more than I anticipated. Late last year, I read this author’s Among Penguins: A Bird Man in Antarctica, which I enjoyed because I am a penguin fanatic. I have done a fair bit of travel in the pursuit of birds, so I picked up this volume with both hope and reservations.

I needn’t have worried. Strycker is a much better writer than many of the folks who pen birding memoirs and I enjoyed seeing places, people and birds that I know through his eyes. I think that was part of
Katie/Doing Dewey
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I’ve always suspected I wouldn’t like travelogues, that they’d just leave me feeling jealous. I’m therefore surprised to report that what I really loved about this birding memoir was hearing about the author’s travels. As the author traveled the world to beat a birding record, he stayed with locals, who knew local birds and local customs. It was fascinating to learn about the different locations he visited from this intimate perspective. I generally enjoyed hearing about his interactions with pe ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not just another birding memoir. First one I've read that makes a point of world travel, of going to the birds instead of aggressively seeking out the accidentals, the vagrant rarities. First one I've read that connects so very much with all the local birders, guides, drivers, and random strangers who rescued our boy from some, erm, predicaments.

Ecotourism is a great way to make money, as one former logger discovered when he befriended a wild Giant Antpitta at his home in Ecuador. And for peopl
Victoria Peipert
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating story! As a very casual bird watcher and nature enthusiast the story in this book intrigued me. It was engaging and was hard to put down since I was dying to know how everything would turn out at the end of the year. -1 star for the editing - it could have been stronger.
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shelf, birds
I'm not a birdwatcher, but I love birds all the same and always stop to observe them whenever I get a chance (I'm the person who exclaims "oh look, a buzzard!" while in a car and who picks up a feather from the ground because "hey, that's a jay!"). But I never understood twitchers - running after as many bird species as possible with a checklist. And yet Noah Stycker's book changed my mind, if only partially, and I even started to appreciate it.

Birding Without Borders is a solid ecotourist trave
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2015 the author traveled through 41 countries and 7 continents on his quest to find 5,000 birds in a year long journey.
I have definitely become an armchair birder as I love reading about peoples journeys to track birds, and also watch the ones that live around me. This was a really informative and fun book to read, as it gives us the mindset of a person with a passion to achieve a goal, and not only that of the author, but other birders with as much love of this recreational activity, and wh
Carol Douglas
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you love birds, you'll probably enjoy this book. Noah Strycker went to every continent in an attempt to see 5,000 bird species in a year. He actually saw 6,000. He got in touch with local birders every place he went, and they helped him. Clearly he was engaging and ready for anything, including days with no sleep and cars that stopped working at the top of desolate cliffs. He gives other birders a great deal of credit.

I particularly enjoyed going to the Internet and finding photos of the bird
Dennis Winge
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Noah wrote an excellent account of his big year in setting the record for most bird species seen in a single calendar year. He presents a nice overview on his strategy to set the record and then provides a compelling travelogue on his travels and importantly his uses of local birding experts to accomplish his goal. The role these various local guides provide in his quest is incredible and Noah gives them great credit for their guidance. It is impressive to read about an individual who sets a lof ...more
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm a backyard birder and I quite looked forward to this book. Unfortunately it's hard to read. I feel bad for my rating, I commend this guy on writing a book on what he loves and I want him to succeed. But I don't think he's a natural writer and he might need a good editor.

It says on the back "this is no travelogue or glorified checklist". Funny but I think it would have been better for the reader if it had been either as those were the parts I liked. His travel anecdotes were amusing and there
Stacey Lunsford
Nov 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I've read several books about birding that were more humorous than this one. At first I thought this seemed a little like a listing of, I went here, I saw these birds, I met these people, NEXT! I went here, I saw these birds, etc.

It turned out to have some interesting stories about the countries he visited and the opportunities to see birds in their natural habitats, unlike the stories of people doing Big Years in North America, where they have to race around the country to see rare birds that
Sierra Cook
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
I went into this book completely blind, and I absolutely love this book. Noah took us on a absolutely wonderful journey of his wonderful Big Year of birding. not only dose this book provide you his wonderful detailed adventures, but also gives many people who know very little on the subject of birding a good since of how its down and what resources to use. But the moral of the story is he put his life on hold for a whole year to pursue his obsession and passion, an while doing that he met so man ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review appeared in edited form in the June 2018 issue of Birding magazine. Copyright David W. Liebmann and Birding.

Noah Stryker’s new book takes on four ambitious goals: immersing his readers in different landscapes around the globe, introducing us to fellow birders of many nationalities, detailing encounters with over 6,000 avian species, and sharing a world record pursuit. Any single goal could be its own compelling book, but the strength (and slight weakness) of Birding Without Borders i
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic reading experience. I had a friend once tell me that I wring the most I can out of every book. I thought they was a really neat idea. If there are books that are well-suited to be wrung, this one provides a particularly rich example. Noah Stryker designed an unbelievable modern-day heroic quest, and the main thrust of the book is following his journey. However, the book is not a simple travelogue, because it is replete with background information about a dozen interesting to ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 or 3.75, but I'll round up. If you like birds at all, this is a pretty fun book. Also if you like travel, though it's less about that - or at least less focused on that. Anyway, the premise is basically a guy who spends a year trying to see as many birds around the world as possible. The writing is not the best - there are some fairly cheesy spots, including a statement towards the end that is almost literally the words "but best of all were all the friends I made along the way," a ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Being a backyard and beyond birder and having heard Noah Strycker speak, I was anxious to read his book detailing the year in 2015 he spent traveling the world, trying to see half of the bird species in it. He surpasses his goal, seeing over 6,000 of the 10,000 bird species around the globe. He is a young man from Corvallis, Oregon and a fabulous speaker. He tells of his travels, the birds that he saw, the weather he encountered, and the difficulties that he faced. He did set a new record for a ...more
Steven Howes
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the amazing story of an incredible journey. In 2015, the author sets off on an attempt to see and document at least 5,000 of the world's known species of birds in 365 days and break the previous record of 4,341. This is known among the birding community as a World Big Year. He not only provides a vivid description of a number of the birds he sees: but also includes anecdotes about the people, cultures and status of species and habitats in the countries he visits. You will have to read th ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story of the author's Global Big Year and his goal to see over half the world's birds in one year. I was expecting to read stories of mad dashes to see single birds and tales of crazy obsessiveness but this book was so much more. Stryker is an outstanding writer and I loved that he did not spend the entire year on trips with professional guides but set himself the requirement that he only use local guides, most of whom he connected with through birding groups and his network of conn ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, zz_2019, memoir, birds
This spring migration I did my own very small version of listing, trying to get as many birds in Manhattan as I could in April and May. This made me eager to read a couple of books about better birders trying for bigger lists.

Noah Strycker tried for a Global Big Year in 2015, trying to see as many birds as he possibly could all around the world. Most books of this genre describe a breakneck pace of birders trying to spot as many rarities as possible in order to up their numbers. But, Strycker's
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked how this had some more philosophical thinking about birding and about different ways of thinking about it. I felt like I learned from this and it helped me think more about how I want to conceptualize my own birding practice as I grow. For more photos, his blog from the year is also great to look at.
Elle Maruska
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Overall interesting and enjoyable although I felt like the author moved way too quickly through some of his experiences and spent an undue amount of time on others so the pacing felt sort of off throughout. Still, it was a fun book about birding!
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really enjoyable read, both as a nature book and as a travelogue with a dash of history for good measure and a smattering of logistical details (which I appreciate in a travelogue, keeps things real). 4.5 stars.
Luke Poff
May 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, school
I'm of the opinion that if you're going to write travel literature, you need to either be a genius with prose or write with a keen sense of humor: the prose here is just decent, and the humor is lacking.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! This is a fantastic complement to the blog Noah wrote while on his global Big Year, and it adds more about the many local people he met along the way and the situations he found himself in. I'm so impressed that such a brilliant birder also has such super writing skills. It's a page turner.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting! Not just for bird nerds. :)
Jane Greensmith
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book—great adventure, seeing the world, following a passion, making friends with fellow enthusiasts, loving this beautiful planet Earth.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very engaging story of year-long round-the-world birding trip. It was fun looking up photos of some of the birds on my phone as I read. The author of course had to compress the 6,000+ birds over 365 days to tell the story, and my only complaint is he gave short shrift to Tanzania!
Tory Wagner
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has gazed at a bird will appreciate this adventure in which Noah Strycker backpacked around the world eventually identifying 6,042 species in 365 days -- A Big Year!
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best birding travel books I've read!! I appreciated the stories of searches for birds with local people.
kglibrarian  (Karin Greenberg)
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Loved this! So many fascinating details about his time exploring different countries and their birds. As a casual bird watcher I’m now determined to get a pair of binoculars and take it to the next level.
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