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Five Big Days for the record books

Big Day bird: Blackburnian Warbler on South Padre Island, Texas.
Big Day bird: Blackburnian Warbler on South Padre Island, Texas, by gman79.

Think you’re a hard-core birder? Well, consider this:

Chicago-area birder Beau Schaefer did monthly Big Days in Lake County, Illinois, for three years, from January 2013 to January 2016. He missed only three months out of those 36, so he was able to put together 33 monthly Big Days in a three-year period.

“I like Big Days for a number of reasons,” he writes in a feature article in our January-February 2017 issue. “Admittedly, they’re not for everyone, but I think doing one would make anyone a better birder.” In his article, he describes 11 lessons learned while doing the Big Days.

On one of them, he and fellow birders Andy Stewart and Eric Lundquist recorded 164 species, breaking a Lake County Big Day record that had stood for 20 years. The tally made us curious about other notable Big Day records.

Global Big Day Record: 6,327 species

Reported to eBird by 17,399 participants worldwide on May 14, 2016.

World Big Day Record: 431 species

Recorded by Dušan Brinkhuizen, Rudy Gelis, Mitch Lysinger, and Tuomas Seimola at Cabañas San Isidro/Yanayacu, Guacamayos Ridge, Cocodrillos, Loreto Road, Jatun Sacha, the Tena airport, Napo River, Misahualli, Tena, Baeza, Guango, Papallacta, Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Salinas, Punta Carnero, and Ecuasal, Ecuador, on October 8, 2015.


See the team’s record-setting bird list (PDF).

North American Big Day Record: 294 species

Recorded by Jessie Barry, Andy Farnsworth, Marshall Iliff, Tim Lenz, Brian Sullivan, and Chris Wood at Boerne, San Antonio Botanical Gardens, Mitchell Lake, Uvalde, Chalk Bluffs Park, Uvalde National Fish Hatchery, Uvalde Landfill, Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR, Eisenhower County Park, Anahuac NWR, High Island, Bolivar Peninsula, and Bolivar Flats, Texas, on April 25, 2013.

Read Team Sapsucker’s report about their very big Big Day.

Canadian Big Day Record: 226 species

Recorded by Yousif Attia and Stu Mackenzie at Cold Lake Provincial Park, Jesse Lake, Kehewin Lake, Red Deer River Valley, Brooks, Mountain View, and Waterton Lakes NP, Alberta, on June 4, 2012.


Illinois Big Day Record: 191 species

Recorded by Robert Hughes, Larry Krutulis, Greg Neise, Michael Retter, Adam Sell, and Jeff Skrentny at Upper Mississippi River NWR, Mississippi Palisades SP, Hennepin and Hopper Lakes, Emiquon NWR, Meredosia NWR, and Siloam Springs SP, Illinois, on May 15, 2015.

Descriptions, tips, maps, and directions to seven hotspots in Illinois.

The January-February 2017 issue of BirdWatching containing Beau Schaefer’s article about doing monthly Big Days is on sale now at Barnes & Noble and other newsstands.



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