Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 ABA Big Year Report

Since it is the beginning of June when the spring migration is winding down, it seems like a good time to check in on the progress of the 2 full ABA area big year efforts of which I am aware.  As I have mentioned in some earlier posts, a birder I know from Ohio, Jay Lehman, is undertaking a big year.  I first met Jay on a pelagic trip out of Manteo, NC back in 2002 which is when I also met Dan Sanders (big year in 2005) and Greg Miller (big year in 1998) who are 2 of the 12 known 700+ club big year birders.

Jay has a blog,, which is how I have been following his adventures.  He is currently in Alaska on a boat as part of a trip led by John Puschock of Zugunruhe Tours to Adak and Attu.  Jay had visited the famed Attu back before it was shut down in 2000.  Now the only way to visit is by staying on a boat, and going into the island each day to bird.  His last post was on May 26th just before leaving on his trip to Alaska which will also take him to Nome.  His total as of the 23rd was 456 species.  He hopes to return from Alaska with at least 50 more species on his list.

The other birder that I have discovered doing a big year in the full ABA area is Neil Hayward, an Englishman who lives in Cambridge, MA.  I tracked him down because of his ebird posts.  Based on his ebird totals, over a month ago I got in touch with him to ask whether he was doing a big year.  He emailed me back to say that he had not planned to do one, but given his fast start he now was "reluctantly" deciding to keep going for it.  He now also has started a blog,

He made a quick trip to Alaska in May, and has since stopped briefly in Arizona before traveling onto Minnesota where he is currently birding.  His total as of today is 620 species.  This is an extremely good start for a big year when compared to a few other birders who saw more than 700 species during their big year.  Greg Miller had seen about 560 birds by June 1 on his way to a total of 715 in 1998.  In 1998, Al Levantin had reached 619 birds by June 1 as had John Vanderpoel in 2011.  Al finished his big year at 711, and John ended up at 743.  The best start to a big year was Sandy Komito's total of 645 by June 1 when he set the record at 748 in 1998.

During my lower 48 states big year in 2010, I had seen 607 species by June 1st.  Neil has already seen over 30 more bird species that it took me a longer to find such as short-eared owl, great gray owl and hoary redpoll.  It will be interesting to see how Neil does going forward, and whether Jay has enough time left to "catch up".  Stay tuned!

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