*Starred Review* At the start of 2013, after a fairly disastrous year, Hayward, as always, chose to go birding, this time flying to the birding mecca of southeastern Arizona to sort out his life while adding new birds to his list. So began an accidental Big Year, a quest to find as many bird species as possible during the next 12 months. As his friends tried to get him to make it official, he resisted, but restlessness and fears about a new relationship drove him into more birding, birding further afield, and, inevitably, counting. The record of 748 species set in 1998 (see The Big Year, by Mark Obmascik, 2004) seemed unbeatable. As we follow Hayward from Key West to Vancouver, the Pribilofs to Texas, we are treated to his trenchant observations of the human worlds he encounters along the way, a wonderful leavening of avian tidbits, and sheer wonder at some of the species he sees. Did he beat the record? Is the Nutting's flycatcher a difficult bird to find? Will the author be played by Brad Pitt when the movie comes out? Readers will be intrigued and inspired. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Recounts the author's experiences as he becomes a bird watcher, and sets the record for number of birds counted in one year.Review by Publisher Summary 2
Author becomes a bird watcher, and sets record for number of birds counted.Review by Publisher Summary 3
The author, at a crossroads in his life, found a calm among birds that had eluded him in the confusing world of humans and, entering a race to find the most birds in one year, shocked the birding world—and himself—by finding 749 species of bird and breaking the long-standing Big Year record.Review by Publisher Summary 4
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.