Birder's Guide

OCT 2016

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 45 of 61

Big Day World Record 44 Birder's Guide to Listing & Ta xonomy | October 2016 in Ecuador, and the fourth frequently guides there. They already knew the right roads and the right hillsides, and they drew heavily on this knowledge to begin constructing a Big Day route. Importance of Previous Big Day Experience I learned many things during this South American adventure. One was that a Big Day is most definitely a game. It has rules. It can be conceived as a birdfind- ing race. To succeed, it is not enough to be an expert in bird identification. One must employ strategies designed to maximize the chances of winning. The two Europeans on the team, Brinkhuizen and Seimola, had signifi- cant, previous experience in Big Day competitions. Seimola had been partici- pating in them for more than 15 years, and Brinkhuizen held the Big Day record for the Netherlands when I met him on October 2, 2015. This particular effort thus incorporated many years of experi - ence in Big Day competitions in Europe, and I believe this was a significant factor contributing to the team's success. Cost/Benefit Analysis Determining the Route and Timetable A route was devised and fine-tuned dur- ing several days of scouting between October 2 and October 7, 2015. During the scouting, team members compiled data about what species were to be found where and when. On the slopes of the Andes, a change in altitude of as little as 200m (650 ft.) may bring a whole new suite of bird species. The team's route started in the Amazonian lowlands and moved successively higher into foothill forest, subtropical montane forest, temperate montane forest, high- altitude páramo, and finally down to the disturbed areas of the dry Interandean Valley surrounding the Quito airport. The team considered various routes that would maximize birding in areas of high species density. Birding in any particular high-density area, however, could occur only for so long. Once Top to bottom: n The Big Day route from above. Map © Rad Smith n The Big Day route by elevation and habitat. Graph © Rad Smith n Gilded Barbet, a lowland rainforest species, was found early in the day, at 07:20. Photo © Dušan Brinkhuizen

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