There are around 11,000 different species of birds on earth. Peter Kaestner is now said to be the first person to have documented sightings of 10,000 of them.

Number 10,000 was hiding in a thicket of heliconias on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Peter Kaestner says that he and his helper Zardo Goring were actually looking for a species of woodpecker that afternoon in February. But then they heard a noise from the heliconia thicket – and a green sunbird with an orange belly appeared.

“We both then took a quick look at it and confirmed that it was the ten thousandth bird. And then I focused on getting a good photo so I could post it on social media straight away.” Afterwards, Kaestner celebrated the success – as he said he did with all his sightings – with an ice cream.

Observing and documenting birds has been a popular hobby for centuries, but it has found even more fans in many places during the pandemic. Bird watchers, for example, document their sightings on online portals. The whole thing works according to a code of honor, there are no official checks – this also applies to Kaestner’s record.

The 70-year-old has been a passionate bird watcher his entire life – and thanks to the green-orange sunbird Arachnothera flammifera, he is now considered to be the first and only person in the world to have ever seen and documented 10,000 bird species in the wild. “Peter Kaestner has broken the 10,000 bird barrier,” cheered the American Birding Association (ABA), congratulating its long-standing member on this “significant achievement.” “The ABA congratulates Peter on his decades of perseverance and diligence and for always being an exemplary ambassador for birds and birding.”

Kaestner himself is modest. “There are many people who are much better bird watchers than I am. It was only through a lot of luck and hard work that I managed to create the largest list to date.” Countless people helped him with this.

Scientists estimate that there are around 11,000 species of birds worldwide. New species are constantly being discovered or species become extinct. According to the Nature Conservation Association, around 300 species occur in Germany. Dozens of people say they have seen and documented more than 8,000 bird species in the wild. There is great camaraderie and support among the well-known top observers, says Kaestner.

The long-standing record holder was the Swede Claes-Göran Cederlund, to whom 9,829 sightings are attributed. Shortly before Kaestner’s record, a second American, Jason Mann, announced that he would soon have documented 10,000 bird sightings – but experts quickly pointed out inaccuracies, Mann apologized and recognized Kaestner’s record.

Kaestner, who grew up in Baltimore on the US East Coast, says he can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t interested in birds. “My brother Hank started when he was ten and I was two. He saw a ruby ​​tyrant and that piqued his interest. We watched birds together as kids and we still do it today.”

After graduating from university with a degree in ornithology, among other things, Kaestner began a career as a diplomat. “This has made it possible for me to live and work in some of the most bird-rich countries in the world – Colombia, Brazil, Papa New Guinea, Malaysia and India, for example.” Kaestner also spent a few years at the US Consulate in Frankfurt and explored with his Wife Kimberly the birds native to Germany. Among other things, they reportedly observed “beautiful bee-eaters” in Ingelheim and red-breasted geese in Saxony.

Kaestner says he had countless adventures on his bird-watching trips – his ship sank in the Amazon and Indonesia, he got lost on an island in the South Pacific, he was almost shot in Namibia and encountered gorillas in the Congo.

In Colombia he discovered a previously unknown bird species, the Cundinamarca Antpitta, which was given the technical name Grallaria kaestneri in his honor – now “of course” his favorite bird. Together with non-governmental organizations, he achieved the establishment of a protected area for the species’ habitat.

Everything about birdwatching gives him joy, says Kaestner. After seeing 10,000 species, Kaestner is not going to stop any time soon. “Birdwatching is too big a part of me to just stop.” But he wants to take more time now and go out sightings more often with his wife Kimberly – for example, trips to see the naked-headed bird of paradise in the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat or the Bulwer pheasant on Borneo are planned.

He also recently started to enjoy diving. “I have now also started documenting my butterflyfish sightings.”

On day three, several hundred emergency services are also looking for the missing Arian from the Bremervörde district of Elm. According to police, the six-year-old was reported missing by his parents on Monday evening. Since then there has been no trace. All news about searching in the live ticker.

Even elementary school causes a lot of trouble for children in Ludwigshafen. In the second largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate, 44 of 147 first graders will probably have to repeat the year. The case is making headlines across the country. Now the school director speaks out.