The American Birding Association is thrilled to announce the results of the 2020 Young Birder of the Year program.

The ABA Young Birder of the Year exists to encourage, mentor, and develop the talents of our teenage birders. Begun in 1998, It has an incredible track record of influencing up and coming leaders of the birding community.

Participants choose among five modules: Field Notebook, Conservation and Community Leadership, Photography, Illustration, and Writing. They work in these areas from April through October, at which point they submit portfolios to our panels of judges/mentors.

These mentors, all volunteers, include many of the ABA Area’s foremost artists, conservationists, and field ornithologists. They spend hours evaluating and commenting on the entries, offering detailed, encouraging, and useful feedback. Both the kids and the mentors consistently tell us how valuable and inspiring they find this process.

All who complete even one of the five modules have accomplished something of real worth, requiring significant effort. Those who choose to complete both of the “major” modules (Field Notebook and Conservation + Community Leadership) or one of those plus two of the “minor” ones (Photography, Illustration, or Writing) are eligible to be named ABA Young Birder of the Year in either the 10-13 or 14-18 age categories. Achieving that level of distinction is a major achievement.

This year, the ABA offers special congratulations to Gracie McMahon, 13, from Rockford, Illinois and Adrianna Nelson, 18, of Bristol, Tennessee, the 2020 ABA Young Birders of the Year. Your work stood out among a distinguished field and we salute your efforts!

As the overall top finishers, Gracie and Adrianna will each receive a pair of Leica Trinovid binoculars donated by ABA’s Legacy Sponsor for the Young Birder of the Year Program, Leica Sport Optics.

Gracie McMahon, photo by Kimberly Linden

Adrianna Nelson

Click here to see the complete list of all of module winners.

We would also like to thank our mentors. These dedicated birders give freely of their time and energy to give each of the young birders who participate, helpful feedback to help them expand their birding related skills. These comments are priceless and keep kids coming back year after year.

The ABA young birder programs are made possible thanks to the ABA members who fund this program through their generous donations.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this prestigious competition! Stay tuned to The Eyrie in the coming weeks to see excerpts from the winning entries, interviews with the winners, and more.

The 2021 program begins on April 17, 2020 so mark your calendars! For more information, contact the American Birding Association headquarters at (800) 850-BIRD (2473) or (302)-838-3660, email us, or look for contest details on the ABA website.

The ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest is sponsored by Leica Sport Optics, our Legacy Sponsor, as well as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Penguin Random House, Prospect Patches, Wunderbird, and Drawing 10,000 Birds.