You might already know Dorian from his epic 2014 Biking for Birds adventure – 17830 miles over 365 days, through blizzards, heat waves and crazy drivers. The goal of this trip was to see as many bird species as possible (called a Big Year) in order to reset his life and simultaneously raise money and awareness for the environment and “green” ways to enjoy it.
Dorian has a fascinating back story including a high stakes academic career including a post-doctorate at Massachusetts General and Harvard Medical School, a battle with alcoholism and drugs, an early love of nature, and is quite a photographer, too.
This episode covers all of that and more, including Dorian’s approach to risk taking and discussion of his upcoming projects.
Find Dorian on Instagram and on his photography site.
1:32 – Start of interview. Jump right into the Big Year and 20 inches of snow.
2:48 – How did a Bicycle Big Year idea develop? A discussion of Dorian’s academic career, battle with alcoholism and drugs, and a rediscovery of birding thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
7:37 – Logistics and preparation for a 365 day “Big Year” trip, and how traditional “Big Years” work.
12:00 – Going from no cycling to 50 miles a day, and the unexpected benefits of the Polar Vortex.
17:26 – How many birds Dorian saw, and how it compares to other Big Year efforts.
22:20 – Costs, sponsorship, and how Dorian engaged with the public for housing and assistance.
25:02 – Dorian’s non-profits that he supported.
27:45 – The unexpected doors opened by the project, including becoming a Colombian birding expert.
34:40 – Discussing new project to ride bike from Mexico to Panama, driving discussion of sustainable economic development.
39:20 – Dorian’s views on risk assessment and risk taking.
44:00 – How to create your own route to making a difference in conservation.
49:30 – How to get more people to care about conservation and the environment.
54:20 – Importance of educating children about environmental stewardship.
56:15 – Dorian’s transition to being a vegetarian, making personal changes to improve the environment such as buying fewer but longer lasting things.
59:20 – Dorian’s book plan and his amazing photography.
Birds and Other Animals Discussed
People and Organizations
Listed in order of mention on the podcast.
Mark Kudrav, who had a California bicycle Big Year in 2013
Noah Stryker, who performed an International Big Year, and his book Birding Without Borders
The American Birding Association
Christian Hagenlocher – The Birding Project, a funds-limited Big Year
The Audubon Society and the Colombian Birding Trail
Alvaro Jaramillo, well known biologist and leader of Alvaro’s Adventures
The Speckled Hatchback, Dorian’s blog
Books and Things
Note: links to books are affiliate links
Birding Without Borders, Noah Strycker’s wonderful book about an International Big Year.
eBird – App and website for tracking bird sightings and researching where to find birds
Opening – Fearless First by Kevin MacLoed
Closing – Beauty Flow by Kevin MacLoed
Both can be obtained from https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/
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