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2016 ABA Big Year Updates: One Week To Go!

We’re down to the last five days of 2016, the sharp end of a year that saw four birders break the ABA Big Year record set in 2013 by Massachusetts birder Neil Hayward. This is a quick roundup of where our four birders are with fewer than 200 hours left to chase birds for the year.

ABA Big Year birders (l-r) Olaf, Danielson, John Weigel, Christian Hagenlocher, Laura Keene

John Weigel has effectively cracked the 780 mark with trips to Oklahoma and Rhode Island to nab Smith’s Longspur and Greylag Goose respectively. The former was his last Code 2 species in the ABA Area and the lowest hanging fruit left to him on the continent. The latter is a wild-acting bird that has gotten a fair bit of attention in recent days. The status of Graylag Goose in the ABA Area is a muddled one. It almost certainly occurs on the continent, as its wild breeding population in Iceland has increased in much the same way as Pink-footed and Barnacle Goose, two species that are now annual in eastern Canada and New England, but its status is complicated by the presence of domestic barnyard-type Graylags across the ABA Area. Local birders seem to be treating this individual as a good candidate for a natural bird, a fair assumption given the exceptional year we’ve had for other Euro geese. In any case, its presence on the ABA Checklist means the decision is ultimately that of the birder. John is at 778 (+3).

You can follow John at Birding for Devils.

Olaf Danielson sits close behind, as he has much of the last half of the year. His most recent addition is Brambling in Oregon, a nice save given the paucity of that typically regular vagrant in western Alaska this year. With another trip to Hawaii, Olaf seems to be putting as much effort into a United States Big Year as he has into an ABA one, and that total now stands at an impressive 825 (+1). His ABA list sits currently at 775 (+2), plus an additional two birds that are listed as pending identification.

You can follow Olaf at his blog, The Bad Weather Big Year.

Laura Keene was able to sneak away for a little pre-holiday birding in California and New Mexico where she was able to add the continuing Common Pochard at the former and the two specialties, Black and Brown-capped Rosy Finch in the latter. she now stands at 757 (+2).

Christian Hagenlocher, having reached his goal of 750, has been making his way across the continent back to his home in Seattle, stopping along the way for various birds and human subjects for his Birding Project series. He has not added any birds since we last checked in, and still remains at 749 (+2).

You can read Christian’s blog at The Birding Project.

Good luck in the last week!

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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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  • Quentin Brown

    Thanks for the update. Another birder worth noting is Arjan Dwarshuis whose world big year has recently brought him to the United States, Apparently a number of Americans have kindly opened their homes for him to stay. and scroll blogs
    Happy New Year
    Quentin Brown

    • Yes, Arjan’s accomplishment has been incredible. Thanks for mentioning it here.

  • Gordon Green

    Christian snagged 750 with the Red-flanked Bluetail.

  • Geoff Jones

    I find your comments very interesting, as from an Aussie looking in I do not see too much accolade given to John Weigel who will be the ABA Champion for 2016 but you seem to be giving Olaf who decided when he realised that he would not beat John went off to Hawaii to feed his own ego, thats how I see it anyway and it is only my opinion

    • That wasn’t my intention. I’ve been trying to be as impartial as possible in this whole thing. I can’t comment as to the reason Olaf traveled to Hawaii, but it’s worth noting his total that includes it.

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