Ethan and Ingrid Whitaker met in February 2013, and went Birding on their second date.
A year and a half later they were married with rubber ducks on every table and even on the wedding cake.
A spotting scope sits in the living room; the guest room (designated the aviary) is decorated with bird art; their bird feeders go through 600 pounds of sunflower seeds a year; and they vacation at birding festivals.
Their plan for retirement (2025) includes a Big Year on day one.
In the meantime, they bird daily throughout the state of Maine and make trips to Texas, Arizona, California and Massachusetts . . . scouting locations for their Bird Year.
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High Island, Texas is the Fenway Park or Wrigley Field of Birding . . . a place of tremendous bird diversity, but also a place where the community openly embraces the hordes of birders that descend on the small town each spring.
The Salton Sea, at 350 square miles (15 miles x 35 miles) is the largest lake in California, an environmental disaster and a great place to see birds. Located on the San Andreas Fault, has been alternatively: a fresh water lake, a saline sea and dry lake bed depending on the changing flow of the Colorado River and earth quakes. This cycle continued for 1,000s of years with the last “fill-up” occurring in 1600-1700.
The legendary Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast. No longer operating as an Inn, the owner has dozens of feeding stations, chairs benches and bird blinds that birders can enjoy (for a $10 entrance fee).
Birding the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the southern tip of Texas on the Gulf side. Being 300 miles south of Houston, an entirely new mixture of species are found, influenced by the Rio Grande, its canals and tributaries . . . it’s an entirely new birding experience. So, with our winter birding options limited by school vacations (Ingrid is a 4thgrade teacher), we decided to head for Texas again.
Plum Island, Massachusetts . . . it’s work hard to find a North American birding spot with a more diverse and attractive birding habitat. A nine-mile-long peninsula which combines a residential community, an ocean facing barrier beach, an extensive salt marsh, dunes, low scrub, maritime forests, grassy fields, salt and fresh water ponds. In simpler terms . . . it’s perfect.
Our San Diego Big Day – eleven straight hours of birding.
We update BigYearBirding.com daily so check back often for new photos, and anecdotes.