ABA Young Birders

ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest

ABA Young Birder of the Year Modules

There are a total of five modules that make up the contest to accommodate a broad range of interests in young birders. Winners are selected for each of the five modules in two age categories. In addition, we will award a Grand Prize for the Young Birder of the Year 2013 in each age division. You do not have to participate in the Grand Prize Young Birder of the Year category to participate in the contest.

The Modules are:

  • Field Notebook: The Field Notebook Module entails taking field notes on birds that you observe in the field. You should be birding and taking notes at least every other week, preferably more often. Your notes should be supplemented by field sketches. Keep in mind that field sketches are often quick, loose drawings and not as detailed as a technical illustration. In addition to the sketches, small reference photos are also acceptable. This module is intended to help you sharpen your bird observation and note-taking skills as well as learn more about bird distribution and behavior in your home area and places you visit. Taking good field notes will improve your overall birding skills, as it requires you to look more closely at birds than you may have ever done before. It is no coincidence that virtually all of the world's leading birders take meticulous field notes.

    Minimum entry is 8 full notebook pages (side by side spreads include a title page with your name and age and year of contest). The Field Notebook is one of the two major modules for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards. To compete for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards, do both major modules, OR do one major module and two supporting modules.

  • Conservation/Community Action: Pick a project that will involve time in the field and will either further the conservation of a bird species or community and/or their habitat. Or, choose a project that will improve birding opportunities, or educate and inspire other birders, be they new or experienced, younger or older. Here are a few possibilities, just to spark your imagination:

    • Create and monitor a nest box trail
    • Create and monitor a bird feeding station somewhere publicly accessible (not your own backyard)
    • Create and monitor a bird friendly habitat in your own yard, property, or a community area
    • Create a printed or online site guide or similar materials for a birding area
    • Offer field trips or fun classes designed to inspire and educate birders
    • Participate in a leadership capacity in a young birders’ group, developing the program in a meaningful way
    • Participate in an ongoing conservation or community action project, documenting your experiences and contribution
    • Set up and maintain an online presence for a bird club or similar group
    • Produce videos or podcasts with the goal of inspiring enjoyment and/or protection of wild birds in others

    Submit a brief written description of what you intend to do no later than June 15, 2013, preferably earlier. Conservation/Community Leadership projects must be approved by ABA staff and judges before you proceed. Approval will be given or changes suggested within 2 weeks of a proposal being submitted.

    You should expect to spend at least 40 hours on your project, not counting time involved in documenting it. The documentation of your project should include writing and imagery that captures what you aimed to do, your experiences during the project, and notable successes or failures and what you learned or skills you developed along the way. The Conservation/Community Action Module is one of the two major modules for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards. To compete for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards, do both major modules, OR do one major module and two supporting modules.
     
  • Illustration: The Illustration module involves drawing birds that you see. You should be regularly sketching birds, at least every other week, and completing a detailed drawing or painting of a bird at least once a month. Any illustrative medium is acceptable and may include ink, pencil, colored pencil, paint, scratchboard or other medium of your choice. Try to do a few drawings while you're watching a cooperative bird in the field or at bird feeders. You may also include illustrations of captive zoo or pet birds but your submission should include at least 75% wild, free-living birds. All submitted illustrations must be your own original work. Though you may refer to works of others as inspiration and research material, you must not violate copyright law.

    Minimum entry is 6 illustrations, paintings, etc. The Illustration Module is one of the three supporting modules for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards. To compete for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards, do both major modules, OR do one major module and two supporting modules.
     
  • Writing: Write about birds, birders, birding, and your experiences with any or all of them, whether it be poetry, short story, essay or other prose. You should write at least once a week, completing an essay, story or poem at least once a month. Essays should be relatively short; no more than three pages. Write about your favorite birds, a special or significant birding experience, an unexpected encounter or insight, or your thoughts on birding. Use your powers of observation and description to their fullest! Be creative in your word use and make your writing reflect your own thoughts. Read a variety of literary styles on birding and other subjects for examples and inspiration but strive to develop your own voice and style. Non-fiction, fiction and poetry are acceptable, so feel free to stretch out and experiment.

    Minimum entry is 6 writing samples. The Writing Module is one of the three supporting modules for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards. To compete for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards, do both major modules, OR do one major module and two supporting modules.
     
  • Photography: Photos for this module must be digital. You should take photos at least twice a month, and select one favorite from each outing to consider for your portfolio. All of the images you submit should be of wild birds, though they may be interacting with people or manmade structures. For example, backyard and feeder birds are allowed. Photos will be judged on overall artistic merit, and technical skill.

    Minimum entry is 6 photographs. The Photography Module is one of the three supporting modules for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards. To compete for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize Awards, do both major modules, OR do one major module and two supporting modules.
     

More detailed guidelines for each module will be provided after you register.