What is a Big Year?

A Big Year is a birding competition or challenge that involves attempting to observe or hear as many bird species as possible within a specific geographic area, typically a particular country or continent, in a single calendar year. Participants in a Big Year may travel extensively, often at great expense, to increase their chances of seeing rare or elusive bird species. The goal of a Big Year is not to win a prize or recognition, but rather to test one’s skills and knowledge as a birder, and to experience the thrill of observing and identifying a wide variety of bird species. Big Years are often chronicled in books or documentaries, and the most successful birders can become celebrities in the birding world.

  • World Record: Arjan Dwarshuis (2016) – 6,852 Birds
  • ABA (USA & Canada Including Hawaii: John Weigel (2019) – 840 Birds
  • ABA (USA & Canada Excluding Hawaii: John Weigel (2016) – 784 Birds
  • United States: John Weigel (2019) – 836 Birds
  • Continental USA: Ruben & Victor Stoll (2022) – 750 Birds
  • Maine: Ethan Whitaker (2021) – 324 Birds