UPDATE 12/30/19: On Nov 2, 2019, New York ebirders reported a yellow-bellied kingbird sp. a Velvet/White-winged/Stejneger’s Scoter on Nov. 22 2019 and a pelican sp. on Dec 11, 2019, bring New York’s total to 501 species. Welcome to the East Coast’s 500+ club!
We couldn’t resist. We had to know, so we dove into eBird and pulled out the data. (Sure, the data will change, of course, but this was the data as of April 23, 2019). In the map above, states in Cerulean blue are states at least 500 species records on eBird as of 4/23/19. At that time Massachusetts was one of two states on the east coast with 500+ species of bird.
What does it mean? Probably not much. The data could be an indication of eBirding activity in these states plus actual numbers of species. But it’s interesting enough to provide some guidelines if you’re a birder interested in state lists or a state-level big-year. Maybe it’s interesting if you’re thinking about attending a bird festival, too.
Some of the data is obvious. California, of course, comes in with a dazzling 697 species. It’s a big state (155,973 square miles) with wildly diverse habitat and coastline. Going for big year in California would be a great adventure—put that on your bucket list
Next up is Texas with 667. With such a variety of resident Texas birds combined with migration, this number isn’t surprising. Also Texas knows how to do birding. It’s a state with phenomenal natural areas, brilliant trip leaders and festivals like the amazing Rio Grande Bird Festival. It just doesn’t get much better than Texas.
No other state tops 600. That does seem surprising. The next closest is Florida with almost 100 fewer species at 568.
New Mexico (557) and Arizona (554) are next, followed by the great birding states of Alaska (554) and Oregon (551). All places any birder would be happy to visit and explore.
How about the Northeast? What’s the state with the most birds? Massachusetts (just 7,838 square miles)! This is one reason why we’re creating a Boston Birding Festival.