Tales of a Big Year…the Journey to 577

1 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO – Ed Konrad

On January 30, SIB members Aija and Ed Konrad amazed the 68 attendees for our first evening event of 2019 with their “Tales of a Big Year … the Journey to 577.” In 2018, Aija took the challenge to do a United States Big Year, finding 577 bird species for the year. She finished #14 in the lower 48 states among 77,000 US eBirders, and #25 in the US overall!

A Big Year is a personal challenge or an informal competition among birders, who attempt to identify as many species as possible by sight or sound, within a single calendar year, and within a specific geographic area. In doing the Big Year, Aija and Ed took 10 trips across the US, were away 110 days, traveled through 36 states, visited 35 National Parks and NWRs, drove 30,000 miles, flew 14,000 miles, walked countless 5 plus mile days, and used half a million hotel points.

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 9.36.35 AM
Here’s the map of Aija and Ed’s travel for Aija’s Big Year…

Not every birder has the luxury of their own personal photographer to document their Big Year, so the evening was filled with Ed’s great pictures of birds and the USA’s beautiful National Parks. The program kicked off with a fast-paced musical slide show displaying over 500 birds of Aija’s 577 year birds that Ed photographed.

Aija and Ed then shared stories through their photos of how they crisscrossed the US, their non-stop schedule of birding from dawn to dusk, favorite birds, hikes, experiences, and even some challenges and a disagreement or two! They led us through a colorful and animated tour though their travels to bird in Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Chicago and Ohio, Arizona, California, Washington, Florida, South and North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and Maine.

The SIB attendees enjoyed an interesting and fun evening. We all now know what it takes to do a US Big Year. We’re proud that a SIB member accomplished being in last year’s US Top 25 eBirders! Congratulations Aija and Ed!

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