The flight stuff: Bird watching soars on digital wings – CNET

This is part of our Road Trip 2017 summer series “The Smartest Stuff,” about how innovators are thinking up new ways to make you — and the world around you — smarter.

I ‘m walking through a strip of forest with Noah Strycker, with miles of Ohio marshland to the south, Lake Erie to the north and hundreds of birds twittering all around. Strycker, a professional “bird nerd,” is so good at identifying birds that he needs only to hear their songs to name them: yellow warbler, blue-headed vireo, sandhill crane, bluejay, tree swallow, warbling vireo, Baltimore oriole, American robin.

Few can match Strycker’s skills. He spotted a record 6,042 bird species in a round-the-world tour in 2015. The compact, articulate Oregonian is at home in rugged travel clothes, like the four shirts, three pairs of underwear and two pairs of pants he wore traveling the globe. Now 31, he makes a living writing, speaking and guiding tours about birds.

You may not be a birdwatcher, but you probably know one — and soon might follow Strycker’s lead to become a birder yourself. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, a whopping 47 million Americans are birders, spending $15 billion on birding-related trips and $26 billion on equipment. The Forest Service expects the number of birders in America to increase 33 percent from 2008 to 2030.

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