Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid Year 2015 Update

Usually around July 1st each year I do a short update on what is going on with respect to big year efforts of which I am aware.  But first I want to congratulate Neil Hayward on his becoming the sole ABA area big year record holder now that the ABA has added the rufous-necked wood-rail to its official list of bird species.  In July of 2013 the first ever ABA area documented rufous-necked wood-rail was discovered at Bosque del Apache NWR.  I blogged about my trip to see it on July 10th of 2013.  Neil went to see it as part of his big year in 2013, and its addition pushed his big year total to 749, breaking a tie with Sandy Komito.  This was the only bird left on his list that he was waiting to be confirmed.

The rufous-necked wood-rail is a bird whose range begins in southern Mexico and extends into Central and South America.  No one had this bird on their list of possible new visitors to the ABA area.  It spent about 10 days at Bosque del Apache before it disappeared which allowed many birders to go to see it (click on any photo to enlarge).

Turning to the topic of big years in 2015, I still do not have any definitive information on anyone doing an ABA area big year.  Looking at the ebird data, it appears that there may be several birders that could be doing a big year, but none of them has a blog, so I have no way to know for sure.  The top ABA area listers for the year are Mike and Wendy Schackwitz who as of 6/28 had seen a total of 594 species.  From the birds that ebird recorded, it is apparent that they have recently spent time in Alaska, and are now back birding in the lower 48 states.  If they are doing an ABA area big year, some mid year reference totals for the top 3 ABA area big year efforts would be Neil Hayward at 653 (year end total 749), John Vanderpoel at 654 (2011--year end total 744), and Sandy Komito at an amazing 692 (1998--year end total 748)).

The one proclaimed big year that I know about is being undertaken by Noah Strycker who is doing a world big year.  You can read about his year by visiting the Audubon website.  As of June 30th, Noah has seen 3,331 species.  His goal is to see at least 5,000 bird species by year end which is roughly 1/2 of all the known bird species.  As a reference, the current record for a world big year is 4,341 which was set in 2008 by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller.  They broke the previous record of 3,662 set back in 1989 by Jim Clements.

Finally, Neil told me that he knows a birder, Olaf Danielson, who has already said on his blog ( that he will be undertaking an ABA area big year in 2016.  Here's to all the birders out there currently doing or planning various kinds of big years.  As for me, my next big birding adventure will be a return trip to the Pribilof islands in September with some birding friends.