Around the World in 10,000 Birds

Posted on Monday, May 16th, 02011 by Alex Mensing
link Categories: Long Term Art, Long Term Science, The Big Here   chat 0 Comments

Nearly 400 bird species can be found in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the state of California, there are more than 600 species. North America has 2,000. Zooming all of the way out, the earth is home to over 10,000 bird species. Many bird enthusiasts focus their attention on local avian populations–but, of course, the term ‘local’ is relative. Mike Bergin is the founder of 10,000 Birds and his approach is global in scope.

There are approximately 10,000 bird species on this beautiful planet. Here at 10,000 Birds we expect to not only see but eventually photograph or write about every single one! (We’ll get there eventually…)

Anyway, we have a serious interest in photography to go with our interest in birds and bird identification. We’ve consequently amassed a rather large collection of photos, and rather than hide them away on our hard-drives we’ve decided that you may like to see them instead.

Few people are this truly holistic in their endeavors, but technology is increasing the plausibility of such earth-wide projects. An earlier post on this blog featured two efforts that would make good company for 10,000 Birds: the Encyclopedia of Life and International Barcode of Life. The Encyclopedia of Life seeks to create a single database with organized and concise information about every life form on the planet. The International Barcode of Life champions an efficient method of identifying species through DNA sequencing.

As massively parallel sequencing technologies become more available, the barcode library will enable sophisticated environmental monitoring that uses living organisms as integrators of environmental change and as early warnings of damage. Large-scale, automated monitoring of species presence and abundance in the world’s oceans, inland waters, agro-ecosystems, and plantations will soon be routine.

Open collaboration and creative technologies provide opportunities for people to collectively analyze vast amounts of information, and through these efforts we get clearer glimpses of the big picture, the Big Here. 10,000 Birds is stitching their big picture out of a heck of a lot of smaller ones, and their glimpse of this beautiful hummingbird in Ecuador is lovely.

  • Janne Sinkkonen

    The global approach is good, but 10,000 is nothing. :) Finland, this small northern country alone, has 2,500 moths and butterflies, and in total about 21,000 species of insects. DNA barcoding of Finnish moths and butterflies BTW revealed only about 30-50 problematic cases of 2500 species, so here the fauna happens to be extremely well known.

  • Thanks for the kind mention, Alex. Our efforts not simply to list the world's birds but really represent them individually and in relation to their kin and ecosystems has kept us motivated for years now, and we've hardly scratched the surface!

    Janne, your example explains why we've taken on birds rather than fish or any of the expansive invertebrate families. As readers of this blog no doubt agree, 10,000 is a nice, round number!

  • Cleopatra Fitzgerald

    This website truly demonstrates the hard efforts of ornithologists and photographers
    in bringing up to the world's attention such a “paradise of birds” and how important
    they are to our environment.


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