Yes, there’s an e-sport called “Fantasy Birding

I love it when I find out about something that I literally had no idea even existed, and “fantasy birding” definitely falls into that category. What is it? Well, it’s basically competitive bird-watching, but instead of having to go out and actually find the exotic birds yourself, you bet on whether someone is going to do that for a specific bird in a specific region. Finds are tracked using a public-domain database called eBird, which is run by Cornell University and allows anyone to track their bird sightings. The fantasy part was the creation of Matt Smith, who tells Deadspin:

“Fantasy birding is basically the offspring of three unrelated obsessions of mine. One is obviously birding, which I fell into pretty hard as a kid in Mississippi. The second is sports, baseball in particular, which always turned me on because of all the numbers. And the third is making things for the web.”

Players select single locations on a map each day, and they get credit for a bird if a real-life birder spots that species within a 10-kilometer radius on that day. The fantasy birding league has already drawn 358 players, according to the Deadspin piece, and the user with the handle MaxBirding was in first place as of March, having spotted 549 species, including 50 rarities, since the competition began in January. My favorite comment from Matt Smith comes at the end, where he says:

“It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the thing you’re doing is. If enough people do it together, it’ll be a good time.”

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