The End of the Biggest Year

"Now that my friend, is a very big year" -Stu Preissler

On January 1st I decided to accompany my best friend on his first day of birding for his newly announced 2020 Cook County Big Year. I just wanted to see the birds as I saw them, and I never thought I'd end up where I did. He would always text me, "Promise you aren't doing a full on Big Year, ok." I promised that, but then the pandemic hit us all, and I was holed up in my house for about two months with nearly no new birds. I went into the pandemic at 107 species. As soon as we started getting to the end of the school year my work became a lot more flexible and we were able to safely go more places and chase nearly every birds. At the end of May I was at 234 species in Cook. That is fairly mediocre, but still somewhat above average. Over the summer I grinded for the breeders and found a super clutch rarity while looking for another rarity that disappeared. By the start of fall migration, I was already at 257 species! That is a solid county year list for anyone. From the start of fall migration I added enough birds to tie the record Isoo broke, and beat it by two! I'm siting at 283 species as of 7:00 p.m. on December 31. Someone would have to go out and find us a Boreal Owl or something for anyone to add another bird this year hahaha. Anyways, the pandemic for many people ruined their year in a way, but I decided that I was going to make it full of everything I wanted to do as long as it was safe. I saw 1,640 species of living things, 303 species of birds in the state of IL, and broke the old Cook County Big Year record, among other amazing things. Some people are saying that 2021 is literally saying "2020, won" but it sure didn't win over me!

My best birds of the year for Cook County:
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Ross's Goose
Harlequin Duck
Northern Bobwhite
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Red-necked Grebe
Eared Grebe
Western Grebe
King Rail
Purple Gallinule
American Avocet
American Golden-Plover
Whimbrel
Red Knot
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Long-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Phalarope
Sabine's Gull
Little Gull
Black Tern
Neotropic Cormorant
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
White-faced Ibis
Northern Goshawk
Eurasian Tree-Sparrow
Evening Grosbeak
White-winged Crossbill
Cassin's Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Worm-eating Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Townsend's Warbler

Ba-boom. That is truly a big year.

Posted on 01 January, 2021 01:18 by brdnrdr brdnrdr

Comments

Very nice list. Love the opening quote. The Big Year is one of my all time favorite movies. Very impressive list here. Great list.

Posted by galactic_bug_man about 3 years ago

Pretty awesome, man! 😁 7 of those birds would be lifers for me and that’s pretty rare for me especially being in the Midwest. I myself did a Dakota County big year and snagged Spotted Towhee for it just yesterday, I’m glad Chicago has had some awesome rarities this year. We’ve had some good ones too but somehow no state records at all this year. Happy new year, Keep up the good work!

Posted by matthewt6416 about 3 years ago

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