Season 2 Episode 1 Part1: Bruce DiLabio Canada Big Year

Hello Birders, welcome back to The Big Year Podcast.  I am so excited to be back for a second season.  I wasn’t sure we’d get renewed but the birds tweeted their approval and desire to hear from even more Big Year birders, so here I am and boy do I have a great line up of guests ready to share their stories.

Over the course of the spring and summer, you will get to hear form Lynn Barber, the one of the great ABA Big Year birders, and author of many books, including Extreme Birder: One Woman’s Big Year, the story of her 2008 ABA Big Year. Lynn was the first birder to break Sandy Komito’s record with 723 species.

I’ll also be catching up with a couple of Ontario Big Year birders, including Andrew Keaveny, who was doing his Ontario Big Year when I was a newbie birder doing an ABA Big Year in 2012, and Brett Forsyth who did a self-powered Ontario Big Year, in 2022 when I was doing my Canada Big Year.  I will Never be doing a self-powered Big Year, I can tell you that right now.

We’ll also be venturing out west to talk to Kristy Martin, who did a Big Year in British Columbia, and Danny Bernard who completed a Michigan Big Year a few years ago.

But today we have Part One of my lengthy chat with the new all time record holder for a Canada Big Year, Bruce Di Labio.   In 2022, I was only the third birder to ever top 457 species for Canada in a single year.  Hot on my tail during the second half of 2022 Bruce, who had already been birding and guiding for 50 years, pushed me until the final day of the year.  During 2022, though we birded in many of the same places, sometimes within hours or even a few miles of each other, we never actually met.  With Bruce breathing down my neck in New Brunswick near the end of the year, I was able to end up in top spot, with Bruce a close second, each of us only the third and forth birders to ever see over 450 species in one Canada calendar year.

Finally in the spring of 2023, when he was trying to break the all time record,  we met at Point Pelee National Park during spring migration.  We talked about his spark bird on that occasion, and his expectations for his Big Year.  His initial hope was to hit at least 460 in 2023.  Knowing what I missed in 2022 and my lack of extensive coast to coast birding experience, not to mention his vast knowledge of the country and where and when to find the most species at the best times, I expected him to pass my record, easily.  Thanks to an amazing year for rarities in Canada, zoomed way past 460, setting a record that may stand for a very long time indeed.  I know records are made to be broken, I just never expected to be dethroned less than a year later.  I take solace in the fact that I was even able to get past 450, given my various physical and mental disabilities.  We all bird for our own reasons, and a Big Year is a personal journey.  The success you reap depends on the passion for birding that you sow.  

So, as winter turns to spring and a birders fancy turns to migration and all the excitement of the return home of hundreds of snow “birds” from the south, let’s catch up with the birders of The Big Year.  Or words to that effect.   Go forth and enjoy the podcast and the birds.  Perhaps you’ll be inspired to take on your next adventure!