WC Is Counting Bird Photos

A buddy of WC asked recently how many species of birds WC has photographed. It’s a little embarrassing, but any answer would be a guess.

So WC is working through about 170,000 photos, trying to total them up. It’s complicated. First you have to decide what list of bird spcies you are going to use. There are lots. WC settled on the International Ornithological Congress’s current list (January 2018) which lists 10,478 species. It changes every year. A species might get split into two or more, or two species might get lumped into one. And new species are still being found.1

In addition, the IOC – and Clements and the other international bird list sources – change the names of bird species all the time. WC’s bird photos span about 17 years of so, and there have been a lot of those kinds of changes. WC spent two hours sorting out four species of shags – cormorants in America – and is still uncertain. Lumps, splits and renames.

And it turns out that WC has been less than rigorous about identifying every species he has photographed.

Anyway, less than a third of the way through the photos, the answer is 482 and counting.

The good news is that there are a lot of species WC had forgotten about, and it is a treat to find decent photos of them.

Hooded Mountain Tanager, Peru

Hooded Mountain Tanager, Peru

Peruvian Thick-Knee, Peru

Peruvian Thick-Knee, Peru

Blog posts will be a bit short as WC grinds through this process. But cool bird photos may be the result.


  1. You think WC is exaggerating? Even IOC’s name has changed, it’s the International Ornithological Union now, although the list still seems to be the IOC List. And the meetings are still “Congresses,” so the IOU does IOCs. 

4 thoughts on “WC Is Counting Bird Photos

  1. WC
    At what point in the count does your mind go to mush and your eyes go blind when trying to comprehend one hundred seventy THOUSAND !!! photos?
    Paul Eaglin

    • One photo at a time. Just keep plugging away. Seriously, the bigger problems are the renames, splits and lumps over the years. When they split the Nazca Booby from the Masked Booby, which one did my photo end up as? What happened to the Thin-billed Prion? Apparently, it became the Slender-billed Prion. When they split the Peruvian Pelican from the Brown Pelican, what did that mean for the bird I photographed in Panama? It can be pretty frustrating.


  2. Here’s a frustrating test for you:
    IF you currently have 170,000 photos to file, AND you still have an itchy shutter-finger, let us know this time next year whether the number of photos filed has kept up with or lagged behind the number of new photos taken.

    I’m not willing to bet on the outcome.

    • I’ve confused you. About 75% of my photos are labeled and assigned keywords; about 25% are not.

      But that doesn’t allow me to do a species count. Which is what I am doing now.

      A typical birding trip generates 3,000-5,000 photos a week. I’ve learned to keep up.


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