Event: NSAS Monthly Speaker Series: Biking for Birds with Dorian Anderson

Date: Thursday October 12, 2023

Time: 7:00 PM

On January 1st, 2014, Dorian Anderson boarded his bicycle for what would prove the adventure of a lifetime. His two-wheeled permutation was an eco-friendly twist on the Big Year classic, a year-long project during which a birdwatcher tries to observe as many species as possible. While his predecessors utilized cars, planes, boats, and even helicopters, Andersonís goal was to replicate their transcontinental efforts without the use of petroleum, a herculean challenge no one before him had accepted. He ultimately survived subzero temperatures, many feet of snow, gusting winds, lightning storms, mountainous ascents, dog attacks, crumbling roads, and accidents of various sorts in the process of amassing 18,000 miles and 618 species, totals no one imagined possible when he departed Massachusetts without an ounce of relevant cycling experience.

(NSAS Event)


Anderson will speak about the genesis of his bike-birding project, provide a thrilling recount of his travels, highlight the birds he saw, and reveal how his adventure changed his life. His personality and enthusiasm are infectious, and his tales of birding, cycling, and self-discovery will inspire others to venture into the outdoors and take note of the birds around them.

Meet the Presenter: Dorian Anderson started birding in his backyard in Philadelphia at age seven. His interest grew to include the Delaware Valley and Jersey Shore during his preteen years, and he attended several of Victor Emanuelís youth birding camps as a teenager. He envisioned himself a life-long birder until his educational rise and coincident alcoholism extinguished his birding desire. With his focus split between science and drinking, his passion for birding atrophied through his twenties, until he got sober at thirty and reconnected with his former obsession.

Despite the aforementioned alcoholism and much coincident drug use, Anderson received his B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Stanford University, did predoctoral research at Harvard University, and earned his Ph.D. in Developmental Genetics and Molecular Cell Biology from New York University. After getting sober and moving to Boston, he spent three years as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular Neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital before resigning the academic rat race and undertaking his Bicycle Big Year.

Momentum from that life-changing project opened many doors including public speaking and travel writing. Anderson worked in Colombia as a consultant for the National Audubon Society, and he is currently a guide for Tropical Birding. He is an accomplished bird photographer and has just finished his long-awaited memoir, Birding Under the Influence: Cycling across America in Search of Birds and Recovery. Pre-orders are now being accepted ahead of a November 2 release date. You can find his book at: https://www.amazon.com/Birding-Under-Influence-Cycling-Recovery/dp/1645022234

submitted on September 21, 2023, at 02:19 PM PST

Bewick's Wren © 2014 Dave McMullen Acorn Woodpecker © 2014 Dave McMullen Green Heron © 2012 Dave McMullen Fox Sparrow © 2014 Dave McMullen House Wren © 2013 Dave McMullen

(Click photos to enlarge)
All bird photos