The view that most birders see of Adam Byrne; the state’s leading eBirder concentrating on finding the next rare bird. Photo: Caleb Putnam
By Howard Meyerson
Adam Byrne has ruffled a few feathers over the years. The 42 year old secretary for the Michigan Bird Records Committee has had to say ‘No’ to more than one birder submitting a sighting to the committee of experts that vets them.
Their documentation has sometimes been lacking, he said. And as a result, it doesn’t get listed, often to the dismay of an indignant birdwatcher.
“People see it as a judgment thing,” said Byrne, who chaired the committee for several years. “It’s ‘How dare you question what I saw.’
“But, that’s not what we are doing. I’ve taken the brunt of it for the records committee, but I’m not losing sleep over it either.”
Focused, hard-working, and keen-on-accuracy are all terms that describe Byrne who
Adam Byrne is both a dedicated birder and family man. Photo: Lindsey O’Neil Bouhana
lives in DeWitt with his wife Jan and their three children. He is the chairman of the research committee for Whitefish Point Bird Observatory and the Michigan eBird reviewer, in essence the gatekeeper for Michigan submissions to the international data base managed by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY.
Byrne’s friends and colleagues know him as a bird “chaser.” It is not unusual for Byrne and others to pile into a van at a moment’s notice and then drive all night to see an unusual species reported in the western Upper Peninsula.
His Michigan list of bird sightings has 398 species out of 444 known in the state. It is the longest list on record. Byrne also holds the Michigan Big Year Record, having sighted 329 bird species in 2005.
“He’s a controversial guy,” said Caleb Putnam, the Michigan Important Bird Areas coordinator and a personal friend. The two have spent many days bird watching together. “What he really cares about is that the ornithological archives are really accurate. And he’s as qualified a person as we have in the state.
“No one would put as much effort into it as Adam. But he takes a hardline approach and that sometimes rubs people the wrong way.” Continue reading