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Top Ten Tips for Surviving the CBC with Ted Floyd

If you’ve ever had the privilege of birding with Ted Floyd, you know that in addition to being a supernaturally good birder, he’s a pretty chill guy. He doesn’t care much for chasing or target birds. He appreciates rarity as much as the next birder, but only when serendipitously encountered. Birding with Ted is relaxing, educational, and pretty much care-free.

Except on CBC day. All the rules change. Ted invokes his inner Pheidippides and the birding enterprise becomes rather… Darwinian. For the last two years, I’ve had the honor of completing the Pittsburgh CBC with Ted in his native Frick Park. This year, we won’t be birding Frick together, but for anyone lucky enough to spend a CBC with Ted, here are ten tips to help keep you alive.

1) Dislike food

Ted doesn’t eat on CBC day. Wastes time, slows you down. You were thinking about attending the CBC potluck lunch? Don’t make me laugh.

2) Put on your best walking shoes

Expect to cover 20+ miles. Conservative estimate.

3) Let him keep the tallies

As a mutual friend recalls, you will receive the following response if you attempt otherwise: “Your data can be a subset of my data.”

4) Expect to spend at least two hours standing in a marsh pishing to confirm a swamp sparrow after Ted hears an unusual chipnote

I’m pretty sure this happened both years.

5) Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you

Because you won’t see them for the next twelve hours.

Ted Floyd with a CBC survivor.

Ted Floyd with a CBC survivor.

6) Get to bed as early as possible

The sun will still be an hour away by the time you’ve recorded your first three species.

7) If you have one of those water-retaining stillsuits from Dune, wear it

This is a great gift idea for birders now that I think of it.

8) Don’t expect to pop in the car and warm back up while you hit the next hotspot

It’s probably best to just forget cars exist actually. Or warmth.

9) Get pumped about chipnotes

You’ll be able to tell the difference between a winter wren and song sparrow chip by the end of the day. Probably by end of the sunrise, in fact.

10) Savor every single moment

Because birding the CBC with Ted will be one of the most wonderful experiences of your life.

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Frank Izaguirre

Frank Izaguirre

Frank Izaguirre is a nature writer and a candidate for the Ph.D. in English Literature at West Virginia University with a special passion for the memoirs and essays of early Neotropical ornithologists. He likes his birding milestones to be palindromes, and is currently at 1001 birds.
  • Jack E. Solomon

    Frank is in a tiny subset of only 2 people I know of, both topnotch birders and great company, with whom Ted has been willing to do the CBC his home town of Pittsburgh over the last decade or two. Most other days he’s friendly and generous about having birding companions. Candidly, when I found out how he goes about the day, I concluded that not only would I get on the way and distract him, the pace would kill me. ; – )

  • Nicholas Sly

    Only twelve hours? You’re missing half the count period!

  • Ted Floyd

    Regarding Tips #1 and #8, check this out: Today I did a CBC that ended with a compilation held OUTSIDE.

  • LeJay Graffious

    Well done. We needed you and him on the WVMO CBC.

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