Announcing the Dewees Island Big Year

Dewees Island is hosting our own big year competition for everyone!  This fall, the Dewees Island book club read Mark Obmasik’s The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession.  It is a story of three men in a quest to log the most species in North America in a single year.  Amazon’s book description depicts the book as follows:

For three men in particular, 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North American birding record. Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest — or maybe worst — birding contest of all time.

This year marks a big year for Dewees: the twentieth anniversary of the development of the island in its current incarnation, and what a better way to celebrate all the things that make Dewees unique than to host our own Big Year. The goal is to find and identify every bird species that visits Dewees Island in 2012 and enjoy a friendly competition along the way. Lori Sheridan Wilson, Island Ecologist, is the main person in charge.  Come join us!  You can participate for a day or a week, a month or a year.  All you need to do is register.

The contest categories

The Big Year The grand prize will go to the person recording the greatest number of bird species in 2012.

The Big Year Jr. (17 and under category) A special prize will be awarded to an individual junior birder (defined as anyone aged 17 or under as of January 1, 2012) recording the greatest number of bird species in 2012.

The Big Day Participants can compete in a Big Day competition by counting all the birds they observe during the 24 hours of a single calendar day. They can pick any day. Participants are encouraged to submit their Big Day results to once they have completed the Big Day. Participants may submit Big Day results as often as they wish, with their biggest list being counted as their final entry.

Best Bird Find of the Year All participants will be eligible to be the finder of the best Dewees Island bird of the year. The Best Bird Find will be chosen by a panel from all the birds reported during the competition.

Best Bird Photo of the Month Each month, special recognition will be given for the best bird-themed photograph submitted for that particular month. All levels of photographers are invited to participate in this contest. Selected by a panel of judges on the basis of originality and execution, the photographs will be displayed on (copyright to be retained by the photographer). The twelve monthly winners will then be eligible to win the Photograph of the Year Award.


  1. Participants
    • The competition is open to all owners, visitors and renters on Dewees Island.
    • Birders can begin competing at any time during the year.
    • Check for updates throughout the competition.
  2. Birds to be Counted
    • Count only those species for which you are 100% certain of their identification.
    • Diagnostic field marks sufficient to identify the species should have been seen or heard (or photographed and then identified from the photograph).
    • Count only birds seen or heard during the calendar year 2012 within the boundaries of Dewees Island (including Dewees Inlet from the ferry boat).
    • Also count any birds seen or heard outside Dewees Island provided the observer is on Dewees Island.
    • Count only birds that are alive (must be hatched), wild and unrestrained.
    • Count only recognized species – not subspecies or color forms.
    • Do not count domesticated birds, birds that have escaped from captivity, or hybrid crosses between species.
  3. Guidelines for Birding Activities 
    In order to protect birds and bird habitats, participants are strongly encouraged to read and to follow the Principles of Birding Ethics of the American Birding Association.
  4. Submission of Results
    • Final results must be submitted by January 1, 2013 to If you are an ebird user simply forward your submission to the address above.
    • Best Bird Photo of the Month results must be submitted to by midnight on the last calendar day of each month. The photograph must have been taken during the calendar month of submission.
    • Competition results will be announced during the 2013 Annual Meeting weekend and posted on Click on the tab for Big Year Birding, above.


    • Birders must register at the Environmental Program Office or send an email to prior to competing. Your name and email is required to register. A parent is required to register children 17 years and younger.
    • A fee of $20 for adults and $10 for children 17 and younger is due at the time of registration. Proceeds from the Big Year support bird projects on Dewees Island. Payment can be billed to your lot or cash.



This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ray

    What a great photo of a Black-crowned Night Heron! thanks for eniterng the challenge. The next one is about Survival…how do birds survive winter? Hope you inspired again. Christianne, Celebrate Urban Birds

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