How birdwatching’s biggest record threw its online community into chaos


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In late 2023, 70-year-old birder Peter Kaestner was within striking distance of a goal that had never been accomplished: seeing more than 10,000 different species of birds in the wild. Such a record had previously been unthinkable, but with new technology facilitating rare bird sightings, improved DNA testing identifying a growing number of bird species, and public listing platforms making it easier to keep track of and share findings, more super-birders are inching towards the five digits. Just as Kaestner approached the finish line for his record 10,000 birds, though, a previously unknown competitor by the name Jason Mann flew...