#1: Dorian Anderson – 17830 Miles of Biking for Birds – Show Notes

#1: Dorian Anderson – 17830 Miles of Biking for Birds Nature's Archive


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.

Show Timeline

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

Northern Lapwing

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Say’s Phoebe

Hooded Merganser

Cassin’s Kingbird

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

The Conservation Fund

Victor Emanual Nature Tours

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

Polar Vortex of 2014

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

Music Credits

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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