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2016 ABA Big Year Update: The Results

Congratulations are in order for Olaf Danielson, Christian Hagenlocher, Laura Keene, and John Weigel for their impressive ABA Area Big Year totals in 2016. I think I can speak for many in the ABA and birding communities when I say that it has been great fun to watch these four birders do what no one has ever done in the continental US and Canada. All have passed Neil Hayward’s 2013 Big Year record of 749.

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

So without further ado, here are the four outstanding ABA Big Year totals for 2016.

John Weigel – 780 (+3: Cuban Vireo, Pine Flycatcher, Common Shelduck) – A late run up the west coast netted John 2 more species for the year. A Red-footed Booby in San Diego and Whooper Swan on Adak, Alaska, where he closed out the year.

Olaf Danielson – 776 (+2: Pine Flycatcher, Common Shelduck) – Olaf had bad luck with weather and gulls in Newfoundland, where he missed the on and off Kelp Gull in St. John’s. He did pick up the Idaho Red-flanked Bluetail in the last week for his last bird of the year.

Laura Keene – 759 (+3: Cuban Vireo, Pine Flycatcher, Common Shelduck) – The Rhode Island Greylag Goose and the New Brunswick Common Shelducks highlight Laura’s last week. She headed home on 12/30 with her spectacular year in the books.

Christian Hagenlocher – 750 (+2: Cuban Vireo, Pine Flycatcher) – With Dovekie luck eluding him in the last weeks, Christian headed west to Idaho where he picked up the Red-flanked Bluetail as the last bird of his year, officially passing Neil Hayward’s record without considering provisional species.

Thank you for your support, and congratulations again on four very big years.

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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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  • Pete

    Wow. I can only dream of doing a Big Year. Congrats to all of you. Now go home and spend time with family!!!

  • Thor Manson

    Wow, what a year! Congratulations to all 4 birders who have set a new standard, which, many will say will be impossible to replicate/surpass, etc.
    It was somewhat disappointing to see that the two top Big Year Birders did not do well in cooperating as has been the standard in previous years, as described so well in Chris Hitt’s most recent blog; ( Slow Birding ). It’s too bad that John did not create a blog to report his sightings to all the birding world, ( as has been recent common practice in the ABA region ), right from January 1 2016 to even out the playing field, but, in the end he deserves full credit for the birds that he saw.
    It also may be that the ABA will need to do a better job of ” scrubbing ” Big Year lists going forward. With the amount of money that must have been spent this past year by the participants, the ABA can’t afford to just simply sit back and accept birders’ lists. They have a responsibility,, as they have created the rules, in my opinion, to be more proactive. At the same time I give them credit for encouraging the challenge, and reporting on the progress of the birders. Thanks Nate.
    Who will step forward in 2017, and other years going forward to challenge the efforts of these great birders??

    • Greg Neise

      John most certainly did have a blog which he updated amost weekly: http://www.birdingfordevils.com

      • Thor Manson

        Hi Greg: If you read John’s blog, specifically the one dated June 30th you will see that John initially did not report widely on his Big Year. Paraphrasing his comments, he had a newsletter which he distributed to friends back in Australia, and, increasingly, to North American birders he met along the way. As he says he did not start his Birding for the Devils public blog until sometime in May, which correlates with my memory of when that occurred. He also states in the same blog that he was not reporting his sightings to e-bird. I believe he ultimately did this, and built a retroactive file which was also posted. I don’t have the exact date when he did this, and am more than willing to be corrected on any of the above.
        For contrast purposes, Olaf started his public blog at the beginning of January 2016, and he posted all his sightings to e-bird right from the beginning.

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