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2017 ABA Big Year Updates: Three Over 700

Birders in 2016 had the opportunity to live vicariously through the Big Year travels of 4 birders, all of whom passed the previous record in what was certainly among most remarkable birding accomplishments ever, or at least the most fun to follow. 2017 is looking like a great year as well, and as fall migration and the rarity season begins to heat up it’s time to turn our eyes towards those birders attempting to put up impressive numbers again.

Yve Morell has been attempting the most aggressive attempt so far this year, chasing rare bird across the continent and racking up an impressive 717 (+3 provisional species) as of August 6. She was recently in Texas, picking up Colima Warbler at Big Bend and narrowly (and no doubt frustratingly) missing the Jabiru east of Houston, though the Black Rail at Anhuac NWR was a nice consolation prize.

Her August will see her heading to California for some pelagics before ending the month up in Gambell for the fall rarity season in the Bering Sea. You can follow Yve at her blog, The Dancing Birder.

Fresh off breaking the Big Year record for Tennessee, the brothers Ruben and Victor Stoll have set their eyes on a bigger prize. Despite losing all of their optics in an unfortunate car break-in in Washington, the Stolls have persisted, thanks to help from Kowa Optics. They have stated that they do not intend to go after John Weigel’s newly minted record, but having long since passed 700 for the year, they are on pace to end with an impressive total regardless. Both brothers currently sit at 714 (+2 provisionals) with Hawaii and California pelagics on the agenda before heading to western Alaska in September.

Best of luck to the three birders. We look forward to following you the rest of the 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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  • Ann Nightingale

    Thanks for keeping us up to date with these intrepid birders. Way to go, folks! A lot of us are watching intently from the sidelines. Kudos to Kowa, too, for helping the Stolls out of a tough bind!

    Nate, perhaps you (or another ABA guru) can answer a few questions that I’ve had. I see that Big Year records are usually individuals, but there are a few pairs/couples. How does that work? Do both members of the pair have to see all of the birds, or is it okay to count a bird if only one member of the team sees it? Are there limits on the number of people that could be on a Big Year team? Given the recent surge in competitive Big Year birding, what kind of quality control is in place for the numbers? I know that no one can verify the sightings without photos/witnesses, but are checks in place to ensure that all of the birds are ABA countable? Thanks!

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