Birder's Guide

OCT 2014

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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Page 55 of 57

48 Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy | October 2014 e humans seem to be naturally predisposed to hunting, col- lecting, sharing, story-telling, and competing. We enjoy the chase and the satisfaction of reaching a goal. Listing and competitive birding are fun. Just how much fun we're having is no more evident than in county list- ing. There are more than 18,000 U.S. and Canadian county life lists entered by ABA members in the digital Big Day & List Report. When we started this en- deavor two years ago, and published county life list totals for the frst time, I knew it would be popular. But this is beyond expectation, and interest just keeps growing. State and provincial life lists are very popular, too, with just over 10,000 en- tries. More than 1,000 of you have en- tered an ABA Area life list, 255 have en- tered a Canadian life list, and 261 have entered a Mexican life list. All of these totals greatly exceed the number of sub - missions in any of our formerly printed Big Day & List Reports (which ceased two years ago). The new system's easy- to-use data entry and maintenance, plus its browsing and searching capabilities, have paid off. More people are playing the game, which was a big point of the switch. In 2013, we followed along with two exciting competitive birding adven - tures. A new ABA Big Day record was set on April 25 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Team Sapsucker. They chronicled that amazing day in last year's Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy ("The Perfect Storm for 294: A New Big Day Record, November 2013" ). The team tallied an al- most unbelievable 294 species that day during a journey of well over 800 miles. This year, Team Sapsucker attempted to break 300 species in one day with a route they call "El Gigante". They fell short and tallied "only" 275 species on a route that started in southeast Arizona and ended in San Diego, California. With their dedication, they'll get to 300 soon enough. Besides a new ABA (and Texas) record, 2013 saw a couple of other new state big day records. Michael Hilchey, Raymond VanBuskirk, and Cole Wolf set a new record for New Mexico: 204 species. I was part of a team that included Birder's Guide Editor Michael Retter, Adam Sell, Robert Hughes, Jeff Skrentny, and Larry Krutulis that set a new big day record for Illinois: 191 species—beating the previ- ous record of 184, which stood for 16 years. The other huge news item of 2013 was Neil Hayward's "Accidental Big Year" . Neil was having a pretty good year and realized by April that he was on track to make a run at Sandy Komito's legendary 1998 total of 748 species. And run he did! He fnished the year with a gross total of 750 species, including three provisional species that may or may not be count- able based on what the ABA Checklist Committee does with them. Right now his total for the 2013 ABA Year List is 747, but 749 is almost guaranteed. Two provision- al species—Rufous-necked Wood Rail (New Mexico in June) and Common Redstart (St. Paul Island, Alaska in October)—are well docu- mented with photographs and are almost certain to pass muster. His potential #750 is, if accepted, a frst ABA Area record of Common Sparrowhawk on Adak Island, Alaska, but that one's far from a slam-dunk. No matter how you slice it, it looks like we have a new ABA Big Year champion, and the number to beat is now at least 749. I took a look on the ABA Blog at how technology and other factors helped Neil achieve such a high total . I wrote then, "Both the mechanics and the playing feld of doing an ABA Big Year have changed dramatically in the past 15 years, and the changes defnitely fall in favor of the birder. I think that for a future big year birder that's off with the starting gun on January 1 and puts in the kind of effort chasing rarities that Komito did in 1998, that 760 is probably in play." There should be some fun big year at- tempts ahead. As was the case last year, we're still be- hind the number of big day totals pub - lished in the last printed Big Day & List Report (Fall 2012). So, please, if you've done a big day—even if you submitted it for a previous Big Day & List Report— please log in at and enter your big day totals. I and many other ABA members look forward to reading about your adventures. Greg Neise Berwyn, Illinois Listing Central Update W

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