August 2019

Vol. 47, No. 4

A Year List? Pshaw, That's Nothing. Try David Ludlow's Lists!

David Clapp and Marsha C. Salett


David Ludlow in 2003 at Ipswich River. Photograph courtesy of Mass Audubon.

Every January 1, many of us start a new birding year list, or yard list, or county list. It starts with the best of intentions and lots of cold-weather wandering. Some years it persists, and other years it fades with time; the summer doldrums often strike a death knell to the best of lists. Or, maybe we persist, and reach a number of species that gives us a sense of satisfaction for that year. But few, if any of us, even come close to David Ludlow's birding accomplishment—which will make you smile and shake your head with envy and admiration at the time and commitment he puts into his monthly bird lists.

That's right: monthly bird lists. Ludlow has seen 100 species a month in Massachusetts for 14 of the last 16 years—more than 168 months—and is still going strong. (The two missing years were not unsuccessful; he didn't attempt the project.) One hundred species in May or October is easy; it can be done in one long day of birding. But 100 species in December, January, February, March, and even April presents a challenge. Massachusetts offers the opportunity, but it takes birding skills and local knowledge, along with willingness and dedication, to achieve such numbers.

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