Best Competitive Birding Record Broke in 2016

The summer of 2016 led to very big events for the world of birdwatching. Within one calendar year, two men have broken the greatest competitive birding record yet and have done so just days apart from each other. Each man discovered seven hundred and fifty different species of bird within one year in North America. But they did not stop there, the two gathered up their gear and continued to race throughout North America in pursuit of finding more species of bird.

The two rivals were after breaking the North American ‘Big Year’ record. The North American ‘Big Year’ is based off of how many species a birder can spot off the one thousand species databased in the ABA’s (American Birding Association)official record list concerning the United States (continental) and Canada. If this story sounds familiar to you then you may have been one of the few who watched Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin in the 2011 film ‘The Big Year’.

Best Competitive Birding Record Broke in 2016 WorldBirder

John Weigel of Australia and Olaf Danielson of South Dakota broke the 2013 record of seven hundred and forty nine sighted species by mid July. During September, the two joined a group of other hardcore birders on a trip to the Alaskan islands in hopes of spotting a few vagrant birds that are not native to North America but sometimes land on the island during their migration period from Siberia. Throughout the year the two traveled by plane, car, and boat spending immense amounts of money to quench their intense enthusiasm for birding.

But in the end, John Weigel of Australia tallied the most sighted bird species of 2016. The ABA provided the official final results congratulating not only Weigel but also Danielson as well as two other birders, Christian Hagenlocher and Laura Keene who also broke the 2013 Big Year record. Weigel officially finished the year with seven hundred and eighty sighted species while Danielson officially finished the year with seven hundred and seventy six sighted species. Hagenlocher officially ended the year having spotted seven hundred and fifty species and Keene officially ended the year with seven hundred and fifty nine spotted species. However, all four of the competitors sighted birds that have yet to be included on the ABA’s official list and are now submitted to be considered. If the considered birds are accepted then the previous final tallies will be amended and re issued.

Although, it is pretty clear that the Tasmanian Devil Conservationist, John Weigel, will stay at the top of the pack. Wiegel exclaimed on his blog that the journey was a rollercoaster ride chalk full of ups as well as downs mixed in with overreactions, sleep deprivation, and mood swings. He kept on going because of the determination and focus he found within his competitors. On the flip side, Danielson explained on his blog how he traveled over two hundred and fifty thousand miles by air, over forty six thousand miles by car, spent over ninety five thousand dollars and visited thirty nine states. He also experienced two near death incidents by bear. Danielson concluded that his 2016 birding expedition was ultimately a year wasted running around chasing and counting birds. Additionally, Danielson mentioned that he is working on his third book, a mystery novel about a mass-murder birder.

Competitive birding is obviously not everyone’s cup of tea. However, if it is something that interests you, remain calm in knowing that the record will eventually be broken again. Recently, the ABA added the state of Hawaii to its official countable birding areas which is expected to add over one hundred more new species to the ABA official species list. The more birds added to the official checklist means more chances to win the 2017 Big Year.