Seeing Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches earns you a number of points in The Global Birding Ranking System. Seeing the Aleutian griseonucha subspecies earns you even more, due to the population's remoteness and limited range. Having even previously heard of this subspecies can earn you even more points. Photographed at Buldir Island, AK.
Today I wish to speak to you about The Global Birding Ranking System, or GBRS. I have lately been besieged with requests for information about my glowing status as Number 7 Birder In The Nation, and I would like to provide a little bit of clarity about how it all works.
For one, every single birder (not birdwatcher) does actually have a rank. If you are reading this, it is more than likely that we have your stats available. We see everything....I assure you, you are closely monitored.
If you did not suspect this was a Herring Gull, you are scraping the bottom of GBRS. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA.
The origins of GBRS are a closely-guarded secret. We can only disclose that it has its roots deep within a vain and mysterious man who calls himself "Handsome Dan", a legend in his own mind. Dan does seem to leak more information about GBRS than anyone else however, as he recently has here. GBRS has, in fact, been operating for a number of years now, and only now has anyone been authorized to confirm its existence.
The statistics used to actually determine birder ranking are incredibly complicated...the formulas were actually cooked up by a team of astrophysicists, football analysts and trainspotters. Factors we look at include the ratio of rare birds you find vs. chase, total life list, identification skills, predicting the arrival of rarities, scientific contributions (eBirding does not count for much), your abilities to identify birds in alien and unfamiliar places, and the number of birdwatchers you have made sweet, sweet love to. As everyone knows, if you copulate with a birder, you gain some of their powers.
There are also many things that can count against you....say, how douchey you are, how selfish you are about sharing knowledge of rare birds, the intensity of bird disturbance you cause (hello photographers), how many baseless theories you have to explain bird behavior, and of course the numbers of birds you have misidentified. Stringers beware...
Casually pointing out a Brewer's Duck (that's a Mallard X Gadwall hybrid, for those lower on the scale) is something that only the top 25% of birders can do. Radio Road, Redwood Shores, CA.
Some common questions we hear include...who exactly collects these statistics anyway? Who is out watching the birders? Who can tell if they've been bad or good? Who is the proverbial Santa Claus of birding?
We cannot answer these questions. If it were to be disclosed, the bribery these people would endure from greedy birders would be overwhelming. Being Number 1 in the nation brings immense wealth and fame (not to mention the drugs and sex), and elevates the birder to true celebrity status. Even if you are only at the top of the heap for a few months, things will never be the same. The honor of having the highest Big Year total pales in comparison to being Number 1 on GBRS. So, as you can see, these people must remain safely anonymous, as do their covert and highly classified methods for data collection.
Aging and sexing Great Frigatebirds is a worthy challenge for those wishing to raise their GBRS rating. Photographed at Midway Atoll.
Of course, everyone is frothing at the mouth, waiting to find out where they stand on the ranking scale. The fact of the matter is that only the Top Ten in the nation are aware of where they stand, and only the Final Five have access to the Global Birding Ranking System Mainframe....at least for now. With great power comes great responsibility....the birding world is ridden with enough hubris as it is.
I hope you found all of this helpful. May you all strive for the almighty Higher Ranking.