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Neil Hayward Gunning for ABA Big Year Record

Neil HaywardAbout this time two years ago, many of us were watching the progress of John Vanderpoel very closely. John’s ABA Area Big Year was coming along nicely, and he was threatening to knock off Sandy Komito’s ABA Area record of 748 (technically 745 +3)*, set back in 1998.

*The first number refers to the number of species Komito published in the List Report, with three not-yet-accepted first ABA records left off. So his real numbers is 748, though you could argue about that.

Vanderpoel ended the year just one shy of Sandy, but 2014 may be the year his number comes up as Boston’s Neil Hayward is coming dangerously close with three whole weeks remaining. An American Flamingo in Texas put him at 742 (technically 740 +2, those two being the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail and the Common Redstart), and he’s currently way out on Adak in Alaska looking for Whooper Swans and whatever else might be out there in the cold and dark.

As seems to be pro forma for the serious ABA Area Big Year attempt, Neil has been keeping the world updating on his blog, The Accidental Big Year, which is really entertaining reading even if he weren’t shooting for birding immortality.

This American Flamingo in Texas, part of a pair consisting of an escapee and a wild bird, was number 739 for Neil's Big Year.

This American Flamingo (right) in Texas, part of a pair consisting of an escapee and a wild bird, was number 739 for Neil’s Big Year.

Neil’s in full-on chase mode right now till the end of the year, so if there is any news of any major ABA Area rarity be sure to let him know at his blog or here on the ABA Blog. #ABArare czar John Puschock is currently in Alaska with Neil and we’re all pulling for him to pull off this incredible feat.

Will he do it? You can find out at the Accidental Big Year.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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