Birdwatching and active “get out there and spot ‘em” birding has risen in popularity over the past few decades. Annual Birdwatch events serve multiple purposes, the best being that they help tabulating organizations to keep an eye on species, their locations, and their probable numbers. Of course, the others include the refreshing fun of finding birds and being an essential part of ongoing research projects. In the intended attempts by birders to best their previous records, they go for the “Big Year,” a term emphatically used by hobbyist birdwatchers.
A Very Big Year
Tiffany Kersten is a resident of Texas. She is actively engaged in birdwatching and is owner of Nature Ninja Birding Tours. With that, she takes groups on tours for birding opportunities and for nature walks. On March 8 of 2021, Kersten announced that she would undertake her Big Year with the hopes of sighting 700 birds in the lower 48 states of America. In addition to that lofty goal, she wanted to bring awareness to women birders and their safety while pursuing what should be a stress-free endeavor. As it turns out, Kersten set a record with the sighting of 726 species in 2021. (Her accepted count was 725 but she last spotted a Bat Falcon that needs to be officially accepted by the ABA.)
Kersten traveled to all 48 states in order to help accomplish her goal. She detailed her year-long journey with a blog that meticulously recounted her adventures in birding. Setting an enviable record is a welcome achievement but Kersten wants it known that women can do birding as effectively as men can…and they want to. But there is a potential threat to women who undertake birding in nature settings that might put them at risk of human predators.
A few years back, Kersten was a victim of sexual assault when she was out in a nature setting. During this Big Year project, she wanted to help make the hobby a safer one for women by starting a GoFundMe page to follow her along on her trips. With the money donated, she purchased She’s Birdie alarms and gave them away to women she encountered.
What is a She’s Birdie alarm? It’s a unit that can attach to backpacks and belt loops that, if pulled apart, emits a loud alarm and flashes a bright light to help bring attention to a person’s location and threat. The creation of the alarm is a story all by itself. The company partnered with Kersten to match her purchases with one free one, allowing her to gift double the women encountered along the way.
Tiffany Kersten is one of the pioneers in women safety along nature trails. The need for attention to women safety is ably attended to by her exploits in 2021, and as 2022 progresses. With her new business, and her strong leadership, she will be responsible for continued awareness along our many nature trails.
Congratulations to Kersten for her spectacular ABA record in her Big Year in birdwatching and for her efforts to make birding safer for women across the world.