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Let's Do A Big Year

Updated: Jan 30, 2019



What is a Big Year?

If you are an avid birder you have probably heard of a Big Year, maybe even thought about doing one. A big year can either be a personal challenge or part of a competition among birders. The goal is to identify as many species as you possibly can, either by sight or sound. All of this happens within one calendar year. It starts on January 1 at 12:00 am and ends December, 31 at 11:59 pm. Your personal start time depends on the time zone that you live in.


There are 2 major competitions:

· ABA (American Birding Association) Area Big Year

· World Big Year




The Big Year Movie

If you love birding and haven’t watched The Big Year yet, you should check it out. It didn’t get the best ratings with critics, but the birding community seems to like it very much. It stars Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin.


There are a few flaws that some birders may catch, but overall I think it is a very good movie and it makes me want to get out a do a Big Year.




Learning About Bird Watching

If you are new to bird watching there are many sources available to help you get started. Check out the Audubon’s and the National Park Service websites for some great tips. The Merlin Bird ID app. is also a great resource to have. I use it all of the time to help identify birds and bird songs/calls. It is free and it is the best app. that I have found.




Keeping a Journal

Keeping a record of the birds you see is very important in birding. Knowing when they arrive and their activity levels will help you in coming years. You can get a feel of what to expect and when to expect them.


Take for example, here in Ohio you should put your hummingbird feeder out on tax day, April 15. That is common knowledge among birders in this area, but if you didn’t know you could go back in your notes and find out when you usually see the beautiful hummingbird arrive.




Spring migration is a huge deal in the birding community and the notes that you take will help you see some of the beautiful migrants as they pass through your area. Knowing when local summer residents pass through will also allow you to have the necessary food and lodging available. By doing so you might entice them to stop and spend the summer at your residence. You will also be able to get a better feel of when mating begins with each species. It’s exciting when you get to see the parents with their immature babies.

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