Birder's Guide

DEC 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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10 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | December 2018 The New Normal As seems to be the norm these days, 2017 had a solid pack of birders going for an ABA Big Year. Yve Morrell led the pack, finishing with 813 species for the ABA Area and 757 for the ABA Continental area. Other Big Year contenders were Victor and Reuben Stoll (762 ABA Continental), and Gaylee (747 ABA Conti- nental) and Richard Dean (745 ABA Continental). Since birders all over the ABA Area are overwhelm- ingly on social media, Big Year strategy has changed quite a bit since the 1990s and 2000s. I wrote about the changes in the playing field in 2013 at The ABA Blog ( In that year, Neil Hayward just barely beat Sandy Komito's longstanding record of 748 species, which for many years was considered un- beatable. But Komito, in his 1999 book about his Big Year—I Came, I Saw, I Counted—accurately predicted the future: Will someone armed with a laptop computer, cell phone and the necessary contacts, time, resources and desire, shatter this record too? The short answer to that question turned out to be "most definitely". John Weigel's 2016 record of 783 was a solid 30 species ahead of Komito's record, setting the new pace for Big Year birders to come. But the biggest technological change in Big Years— and in birding in general—has been digital photogra- phy. The Photo Big Year is not a new game, but I think that it will become the game. As the kids like to say, "pics or it didn't happen". Indeed, during recent Big Years, scores of us have followed along as birders document their efforts on their personal blogs…but also note when, in a few in- stances, some have posted pictures of birds that were misidentified. Enter Laura Keene, whose 2016 Photo Big Year docu- mented over 800 species! I wrote a bit about that in a salon of Laura's images in the August 2018 issue of Bird- ing. Photo Big Years add another level of challenge and excitement that we'll be watching closely. Housekeeping As we go to press, the Listing Central web app is down. It is being rebuilt from the ground up and will soon have a new home on the ABA website. Monitor the usual channels (Facebook, Twitter, the Flight Calls newsletter, and the ABA website) for news of its reboot. In recent years we have taken to updating the ABA Checklist files that are available online at various times during a given year as new species (vagrants and exotics) are added. But note that taxonomic changes to the ABA Checklist will only happen once per year, timed with the release of the ABA Checklist Committee's (CLC) annual report (November/December). Up-to-date ABA Checklist files are available online—as are CLC annual reports go - ing back to 1984—at Greg Neise Berwyn, Illinois Listing Central Update Laura Keene (l) documented over 800 species during her 2016 Photo Big Year. Yve Morrell (r) posted the biggest ABA Area Big Year in 2017 with 813 species.. Photo © Yve Morrell

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