S3 E1: Peter Kaestner


We open Season 3 of the podcast from the jungles of the Ivory Coast, before talking to Peter Kaestner, the world’s most accomplished birder.

In February 2024 Peter became the first person ever to see 10,000 bird species, though, as we hear at the very end of the episode, the climax of his record came with more plot twists than a Hitchcock movie.

Peter talks about his fiercely competitive family, and his older brother Hank’s pivotal role in starting a lifelong love of birding. He explains how he chose a career that would best support his birding. And that luck – and lucky stones – have played a role in getting him to his 10,000th bird.

NB. We recorded the interview in late January before Peter had broken the record. He joined us again in late March to provide the update at the very end of this episode.


There has been a great deal of coverage of Peter’s record and the intrigue around it.

On the record itself: The New York Times: With an Orange-Tufted Spiderhunter, Birder Breaks Record for Sightings, while the American Birding Association published a piece by Peter in January on his plans to reach 10,000 birds.

And on the the intrigue: The Guardian How birdwatching’s biggest record threw its online community into chaos, and this is the lively thread on Birdforum that Peter referred to. Plus an entertaining Tiktok video from Aerithgirl outlining the story of Peter Kaestner’s 10,000th bird and Jason Mann’s claim. 3 million views and counting!

Jon and Charles have already both written reports on their Ivory Coast trip.

Cover Art: Peter (left) and Hank Kaestner with a ‘lucky stone’.