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The Big Year - The Championship For The Most Vigilant And Stubborn

The history of The Big Year and its popularity. Rules of participation in The Big Year. The Big Year records. The importance of the competition for nature conservation.

Author:Velma Battle
Reviewer:Michael Rachal
May 23, 2024
Increasingly, there is a need and desire to connect with nature, to feel part of it and to truly enjoy the time spent in nature. Therefore, any activity related to the environment, animals or plants is becoming increasingly popular. As the rhythm of our lives becomes faster and more intense, the opportunity to enjoy nature and hear one's thoughts has become increasingly valued. And man, as a part of nature, gravitates towards the known and understandable.
Hunting, hiking, and wildlife watching have been the most popular activities that help us recover, feel emotionally stable, and satisfy our need for peace. Even more than a hot bath or a vacation.
However, wildlife is so exciting and diverse that observing it is increasingly used as a relaxation method, meditation, and simply as a break from the daily routine. This is how the movement of nature researchers who observe and study birds was born. In general, birds are fascinating creatures that are significantly different from the animals we see every day. That is probably why more and more people want to learn more about them, to study their behavior and changes depending on the day, season or temperature. If it had been an ordinary desire earlier, a unique competition would have been held for such an activity.
It's been a big year. This is probably one of the most unique contests that anyone can participate in. It's a kind of championship for those who want to ecologically explore nature, learn new things and interact with a large number of like-minded people. This competition has become quite popular among researchers and nature lovers, but like any competition, it requires a high level of preparation. After all, the tasks are not ordinary, namely observing birds throughout the year.

History and terms of participation in The Big Year

The idea of establishing the contest originated in the 20th century in North America and began as a start-up by an ornithologist who researched 598 species of birds in a year. By telling colleagues and friends, thanks to recommendations, the competition gained popularity and spread. Today, it is one of the most significant international projects in wildlife research. The growing interest of naturalists and ordinary tourists in ornithology and travel stimulated such progress. Everyone who wanted to join the project had to observe and keep records with photo fixation of bird species they saw worldwide. It was pretty tricky at first, but the latest technologies, such as digital cameras and mobile applications, helped identify the bird species and thus share knowledge with colleagues and other contestants. Each year, the number of participants increased, and the winner was determined based on the number of species seen.
With the advent of new technologies such as digital cameras and mobile applications for bird identification, participants could record their sightings with greater accuracy and NVG goggles, which helped bird-watching at night, making the observation process more accessible and enjoyable.
The contest has set records regarding observation speed and several species for many years, but its goal has always remained the same. For example, in 1998, naturalist Sandy Comito participated in the North America Big Year competition. In one year of his research, he observed and studied 748 species of birds. Such dedication and zeal contributed significantly to ornithology.

The importance and meaning of The Big Year

Of course, ornithology has developed significantly thanks to the exploration of nature and the many tourists participating in The Big Year competition. After all, by exploring nature, we gain new knowledge about the behavior, color and habitat of entirely different species of birds, and the spirit of competition promotes the desire to learn even more. In this way, knowledge about specific species of birds, which was previously a mystery, is expanding. For example, scarecrows are more active at night, so previously, there was very little information about them; everything we knew was either a guess or information collected during the day. But thanks to the stimulation of research and the use of NVG goggles, we now know the peculiarities of their lives, where they live and how they hunt, their preferences and how they care for their young. Scientists often use participant data to study migration, population changes, and other aspects of bird life. All this knowledge helps us better understand birds and pass on the information we have received to the next generations.
The Big Year is not only a competition for winning prizes or proving one's superiority but also a unique event that unites like-minded people and nature researchers with one common goal - to study the diversity of bird species. Thanks to the popularization of nature observation, the work of ornithologists and ecologists from all over the world has been dramatically improved and accelerated, which contributes to the increased awareness of the protection of wildlife and the species of animals and plants that are on the verge of extinction and protect them. It is an exciting journey into the depths of wild nature. It promotes the enjoyment of magical landscapes of parks, forests and water bodies that are habitats of various species, as well as a place for solitude and self-reflection as part of the tremendous natural mechanism.
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Velma Battle

Velma Battle

Travelling Expert
Michael Rachal

Michael Rachal

Travelling Expert
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