What’s it take to see 300 Species Annually in Indiana?

I recently saw where Don Gorney once again saw 300 species in Indiana in a year. And it got me thinking what’s it take in the way of the time and mileage to see 300 species?  Or to see a portion of that number, say 250 or 275?

My local goal in Illinois was always to see 230 species annually.  And then reach 250 in Illinois by taking an additional 4-5 trips at the right times of the year.

But living in Indianapolis instead of a major migration route like I did in Illinois means I would have to do a lot more work to reach 250 species.

So the question is how many trips to Goose Pond or the Lake Michigan Lakefront at prime time does it take to reach 250 species? And how many additional trips are involved to reach 275? 300?

I began my analysis by downloading all the species reported in Indiana to eBird so far in 2015.  I then removed the 200 species I would see on an annual basis by birding locally.

That left approximately 120 species of which I figured 17 would be picked up by just going to the additional areas – Black Vulture and Northern Bobwhite for example.

I then noticed there were 14 that were one day wonders that only one person reported and thus probably not chasable.

And there were 3 rarities that were reported in the Indianapolis area that were seen by many people.

That left 87 species that I used for my data set.

The Results

To see 300 species from Indianapolis it would take 45 trips outside the local area averaging 218 miles or 9840 total miles. At an average of 60mph that equates to 164 hours of driving.

That involves 12 trips to the Goose Pond area for a total of 29 species. And 10 trips to the lakefront for another 20.

So starting with a local base of 210 or so and looking at the data, 4-5 trips to Goose Pond should pick up basically 20 additional species, 3 trips to the lake should get another 13, a trip to Universal Mines for 3, and Kankakee Sands for 4.  That is total of 40.  We are now at 250. So 10 trips at 2500 miles for 40 species.

To get to 265 the law of diminishing returns really kicks in.  It would probably involve 6 trips picking 2-3 species at a time. So another 6 trips at 1000 miles for 15 species.

And anything over 265 it’s probably going to be 1 new species per trip.

Or 35 more trips at 6500 miles.

So there you have it. What it might take to get to a desired species total in Indiana.  Of course my numbers are approximates and you can slice and dice the numbers several different ways, but my numbers should be close enough to give you the idea.

The Data:

Download (XLSX, 23KB)

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