I just completed a Canada Big Year in 2022, seeing and hearing 456 species over the course of birding 365 days straight. I travelled back and forth across the country all year and visited the most incredible birding locations Canada has to offer. I saw 456 species in 10 provinces and 2 territories and was only the third birder to ever see more than 450 species in a single year in Canada.
But there are even bigger Big Years. And the ABA Area Big Year is the biggest in North America. Dozens of birders have concurred the 700 species mountain since he 1980’s but one of the first was Sandy Komito.
In our debut episode of The Big Year Podcast, we will be talking to this king of Big Year birding, Sandy Komito. He did his first Big Year in 1987 and was only the second birder to ever see more that 700 species in the ABA Area in a single year, breaking the previous record of 710 by Benton Basham, set in 1893. In 1998 Sandy decided to use his experience from the first Big Year and attempt a second Big Year, which at the time, no one had ever done.
His is 1998 record of 748 species stood for 15 years as challengers came and went, but in 2013 Neil Hayward finally broke the record with 749 species. But it was a different time, with social media, the internet and more rare bird alerts than was ever possible in 1998. So, let’s go back in time and see what it took to see 748 species with nothing but dial up rare bird alerts on the phone and word of mouth.