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Re: Big Day

On Sun, 10 Feb 2002, L&J LENTZ wrote:
> Josh Rose:  I don't quite understand why you couldn't count the Blk-crowned
> Night Heron on your Big Day.  Obviously I don't know all the rules as I am
> a novice birder.  I think you could've counted it!

Given the rate of new birders joining the list, I'm sure Carolinabirds has
other folks who don't know about "the rules". The official Big Day records
are kept by the American Birding Association and published annually in the
Big Day and List Report. The ABA has set forth rules for these events to
keep things as fair as possible. Among the Big Day rules is that all of
the birds found on a Big Day must be found by the participants, either on
their own or using previously disseminated material like bird-finding
guides, RBA messages, and posts to e-mail lists. Any bird pointed out for
the team by someone not participating in the Big Day doesn't count.

Here's the relevant text of the rule in question:
"When other birders are encountered accidentally, participants may not
solicit bird-finding information and should avoid receiving any
information from them, to the extent that common courtesy allows. If
despite all precautions information is received during an accidental
encounter, the team may use it."
So maybe I could have counted the heron. But I didn't really take all that
many precautions; I don't think I ever told Amalie I was doing a Big Day.

Whenever a discussion comes up of whether or not a certain bird is
"countable", for instance if it might have escaped from captivity, also
applies primarily to ABA members filing their reports. Speaking of which,
I sure am glad that Eurasian Wigeon on Greenfield Lake in Wilmington is
hanging around with so many American Wigeon, because there sure are plenty
of obvious feral waterfowl around that lake too. Lots of Muscovy Ducks,
and even a few Canada/barnyard goose hybrids similar to the "Barnacle"
goose in Hillsborough.

The rest of the ABA rules for Big Days and listing can be found at
Anyone who is not an ABA member, or who is not planning to report their
totals to the ABA, is not bound by these rules, and so can count birds for
their life list, state list, and yearly and daily totals however they

Just finished the official tally for my day; it was actually 82 (83 if
the heron counts). Turns out I forgot to write down the Fish Crows at the
Southport ferry terminal. Makes sense; I was still undecided then about
whether or not I was actually doing a Big Day...

Good birding,


Joshua S. Rose
Duke University
Department of Biology (Zoology, R.I.P.)