Not one, but two Big Year records fell in 2016

Pine Flycatcher was recorded by all four North American Big Year birders. This one was in Sinaloa, Mexico.
Pine Flycatcher was recorded by all four North American Big Year birders. This one was in Sinaloa, Mexico. Photo by Ron Knight (Wikimedia Commons).

Two of birding’s most celebrated records were broken in 2016: Neil Hayward’s 2013 mark for the most bird species identified in one year in the ABA Area, and Noah Strycker’s 2015 record for the most birds recorded around the world.

According to the ABA, not one but four birders topped Hayward’s record of 749 species: Christian Hagenlocher, a high-school biology teacher from Seattle, Washington, recorded 750 species. Photographer Laura Keene, from Mason, Ohio, spotted 759. Author Olaf Danielson, of South Dakota, recorded 776. And John Weigel, an American living in Australia, finished with 780.

The totals will likely change, since each birder listed two or three of a trio of species that the ABA hasn’t added to its checklist yet: Pine Flycatcher, Common Shelduck, and Cuban Vireo. The association will decide whether to add the species in the months ahead.

Danielson chronicled his Big Year at the blog The Bad Weather Birder. Hagenlocher tracked his efforts at The Birding Project. Weigel reported Birding for Devils. Keene posted about her Big Year on Facebook.

Strycker’s world Big Year mark was broken by Dutch birder Arjan Dwarshuis, who recorded 6,833 species. Dwarshuis’s last sighting in 2016 was a Black-crowned Fulvetta, which is endemic to Vietnam. Strycker’s total was 6,042 species.

Dwarshuis is using his accomplishment to raise funds for BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme, which works to prevent the extinction of critically endangered bird species. Please consider a donation.

Five Big Days for the record books.

A photo gallery of Noah Strycker’s Big Year birds.

Laura Erickson: Why even a Big Year can’t compete with the comforts, and the birds, of home.


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