A ‘Big Year’ is a competition among birders on viewing and hearing the most birds in a year

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites southeast Missourians to take part in “Our Big Year” at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center.

A “Big Year” is a competition among birders to see and/or hear the most birds in a single year. However, MDC Naturalist Jordi Brostoski said even people who’ve never taken part in watching birds can use this as an opportunity to build nature skills and appreciate birds in the wild.

“We want to help you learn how to start birding. We’ll tell you where to go and we’ll give you a birding ‘log’ to help you keep track of the birds you see,” Brostoski said. “This event is not just for the highly skilled birder – it is a chance for people of any skill level to learn about and appreciate our state’s huge number of resident and migrating birds.”

Nature Center staff will keep a running tally throughout 2017 of which birds they’ve seen throughout the year and the public is invited to challenge the Nature Center team.

The Nature Center will host programs throughout the year to teach birding tips and answer questions about bird calls, bird behavior, and how to attract birds to your home. Look for “OBY” at the end of program descriptions in the center’s newsletter, The Tupelo Times, to see if programs are related to “Our Big Year.”

All participants who attend five bird-related programs will be entered to win a drawing at the end of the year. There will be an additional drawing for a beginning birder bag with tools every birder appreciates, such as a bird identification guide, a birder’s journal, and a birding by ear CD. Participants in “Our Big Year” can enter and the prize will be drawn at the end of 2017.

“Birding is for everyone,” said Brostoski, “It can be done by people of all ages and abilities and can be done anywhere in the world.

“Birding can be done on your way to a doctor’s appointment, in the grocery store parking lot or as you sit in the stands at an outdoor ballgame. Anyone can enjoy watching beautiful birds.”