Nation: Takes One to Know One

A rare bird flies in pursuit of a wild record

His quest began at precisely one second past midnight on Jan. 1, 1979, when he spotted a barn owl in Florida City, Fla. His mission, admittedly, was in part a wild goose chase, but it was a snowy plover chase and a glossy ibis chase as well. For James Vardaman, 58, had decided that he would spend 1979—from New Year's Day to New Year's Eve—trying to become the first person to sight 700 different species of birds in North America within one year. "Hot damn!" he remembers saying when he thought of...

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