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 2019 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.

ENTRY SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS: The following group of instructions, requirements and guidelines have been setup to best serve both the contestants and judges. Due to the ever-increasing popularity and increases in enrollment for the contest, any module entry deviating from the submission requirement instructions will be eligible for disqualification.

Click on the tabs below to go directly to more detailed instructions for each module.

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, the young birder must participate in both major modules, OR one major module and two supporting modules.

Instructions, Encouragement, and Gentle Exhortations

Talk to any birder above a certain age, and that person will tell you it’s utterly essential to keep a field notebook. Rachel Carson and Roger Tory Peterson kept field notebooks. The field notebook is as indispensable for birding as binoculars and a field guide. Sure, you can enjoy birding without a field notebook—in the same way that you can do so without binoculars and a bird book. But if you ever want to get “good,” if you’re ever going to get “serious” about birding, you absolutely, positively must keep a field notebook.

Um, no.

That wasn’t even true “back in the day.” And it’s a problematic assessment, at best, in the digital age. Keeping a record of what you see and hear is indeed a good idea, but we at the ABA believe that the wisest approach is to chronicle your birding experiences in a manner that is well suited to your own inclinations and aspirations as a birder. To be sure, you owe it to yourself to experiment in diverse mediums of note taking. And it is in that spirit that we offer the following three major guidelines for entrants in the Field Notebook Module.

Guideline #1. Get in the habit of recording your observations in the field. The most obvious way is to write things down. But in this day and age, a perfectly acceptable alternative is to use a voice recorder app on your smartphone.

Guideline #2. Your eyes and ears are good, your gear is great. You don’t have to have a fancy camera; simply holding your binoculars up to your phone (“digibinning”) can yield impressive results. So can pointing your phone at a singing bird and pressing the red “record” button.

Guideline #3. Share! Of course, you’re already sharing your observations with the judges, and that’s great. But we also want to encourage you to share your observations more broadly, via eBird, social media, and more.

We’ll sum up the preceding like this: (1) Write it down, (2) Use technology, (3) Share with others. And with those three big ideas out of the way, let’s turn to the actual requirements for this module:

1. Submit a written record of one (1) excursion afield. Basically, go birding—and write stuff down, while you are in the field. The entry should be at least three (3) pages long and no more than five (5) pages long. It should be in your own hand, and, again, it should not be improved on or embellished when you get home. It should include all of the following:

• A written description of the visual appearance of one (1) bird species that you saw.

• A written description of some aspect of a bird other than its visual appearance—basically, what it was doing.

• A written description of the song or other vocalization of one (1) bird species that you heard.

• A sketch of one (1) bird species that you saw in the field.

• Notes that would allow anybody to figure out where you were, when you were there, what the weather and habitat were like, etc.

• At least one (1) new thing you learned.

• At least one (1) question you asked while out there—and whose answer you still don’t know.

2. Submit an overview, only one (1) page in length, that more formally summarizes the excursion that you documented with 3–5 pages while in the field. Describe patterns you saw, lessons you learned, anything like that. An overall summary—how many species, high or low numbers, etc.—would be great.

3. Submit an annotated eBird checklist from your time afield. Be sure to use the “comments” section—both in the “Date and Effort” section and for the individual species. Try to upload at least one photo, one sound recording, and one link to an external site.

4. Submit media to some source other than eBird. Possibilities include but are not limited to: Xeno-Canto, Flickr, and iNaturalist.

5. Share your experience via social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. If you and your family are uncomfortable with social media, consider sharing via your state, provincial, or other regional listserv.

6. REPEAT THE STEPS ABOVE 5 times over the course the contest period.

An Example

Check out this eBird checklist by Birding magazine Editor (and longtime Young Birder of the Year judge) Ted Floyd:

Examples of ebird checklists:

ebird.org/view/checklist/S46776303

ebird.org/view/checklist/S11166994

ebird.org/view/checklist/S40468876

There aren’t any particularly rare birds on this checklist. Most of the photos and audio are so-so (and a few are terrible). But that’s all beside the point. Note that brief notes are provided for each species, including, in some instances, photos and audio. Ted wasn’t certain of everything, and you’ll see questions in a few places (age of the Blue Jay, relationships among the Canada Geese, type of call given by a Red-winged Blackbird, etc.).

Ted also posted a photo to Facebook, audio to Xeno-Canto, and a video short to Facebook. Actually, the video was made by his son, Andrew Floyd, which is fine—as long as credit is given.

So, we’ve gotten requirements 3, 4, & 5 taken care of.

What about requirements 1 & 2? If Ted had been an entrant in the Field Notebook Module, he might have done the following:

• Described the facial pattern of one of the Killdeers. The Killdeer is a distinctive bird, but try describing the pattern on its face. It’s not easy!

• Described the complex social interactions among the Cliff Swallows—direct interactions between individuals, as well as the general behavior of the flock.

• Described the song of the Sora, perhaps by including a field sketch of the spectrogram of the bird’s simple, endlessly repeated song.

• Sketched the male Hooded Merganser, emphasizing “female-like” characters and pointing to evidence of molt. Given the “artist,” this would have been a terribly crude sketch, but, still, it would have shown the bare parts (important!) and coarse plumage patterns.

• Reported the basic coverage—start time, finish time, mileage, weather, habitat notes, etc.

• Mused on the size differences between the Black-capped Chickadee and the Bushtit, something he hadn’t fully appreciated beforehand.

• Asked just how fast the Mallards molt at this time of the year, and wondered whether there is variation between males and female.

The preceding would definitely have taken care of #1!

And, finally, as to #2, Ted would have typed out a clean, proofread, spellchecked, one-page summary of the excursion, citing some highlights (especially the rare dragonfly) and putting the checklist in the broader context of summer birding in the area.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS for Field Notebook Module:

Field Notebook files to be properly labeled and uploaded between Sept. 15 and midnight of Oct. 1, 2019

                         

Please submit all entries for the Field Notebook Module in two parts: 1. a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation, and 2. the same presentation exported as a PDF document. Basics of each submission are below with the details of what is included explained in the text above..

  1. Combine all the following elements into a single Powerpoint or Keynote:

    1. Slide 1, labeled {In The Field Observation}. Submit a PDF of the written record of one (1) excursion afield–done while in the field. This PDF should be 3-5 pages long.
    2. Slide 2, labeled {Follow  Up – Field Observation}. Submit a PDF of the overview, only one (1) page in length, which more formally summarizes the excursion that you documented. This write-up is more formal and not made in the field .
    3. Slide 3, labeled {Annotated eBird Checklist – Field Observation}. Include a slide that contains a live link to your annotated eBird checklist from your time afield.
    4. Slide 4, labeled {Alternate Shared Media — Field Observation}. Include a link to the media submission to the source other than eBird. Example: iNaturalist, Xeno-Canto, or Flickr.
    5. Slide 5, labeled {Social Media Sharing the Sighting Interaction – Field Observation}. A link to the site where you shared your experience via social media or listserv–include it on one slide labeled as such in the slide’s title.
    6. REPEAT THE STEPS ABOVE 5 times over the course the contest period. For a total of 25 slides as per Field Notebook Module entry.
  1. The final step is to export the Powerpoint or Keynote presentation complete with all the text slides to a PDF document.

File label for the Field Notebook Module entry should follow this format:

FieldNotebook-YourName-Age for example: FieldNotebook-ChrisBirder-16

When you’re ready to submit your Field Notebook, make sure to complete this checklist:

  • 1. Submit your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.
  • 2. Submit the PDF of your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.
  • 3. Attach a one page PDF personal biography which includes a photo, brief history of your birding, why you entered the contest and who has helped you along the way. (Only one biography needed per YBYC participant. You do not need to attach multiple biographies if you participate in multiple modules.)

We will send you instructions for uploading your submissions closer to the submission date.

Failure to follow all submission requirements, especially file-naming protocols, will cause your entry to be disqualified. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification over email or Slack before the submission date. We want you to succeed and to enjoy participating.

The Conservation and Community Leadership 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, the young birder must participate in both major modules, OR one major module and two supporting modules.

Pick a project that will involve time in the field and will either a) further the conservation of a bird species or community and/or their habitat, or b) a project that will improve birding opportunities, or educate and inspire other birders. 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 in your own backyard)
  • Create and monitor a bird friendly habitat on public property, a public park or school yard or a community area
  • Create a printed or online site guide or similar materials for a birding area and show it in use
  • Offer field trips or fun classes designed to inspire and educate birders or inspire non-birders to enjoy birds
  • 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
  • Write a curriculum on birds and submit it to your school to teach
  • Write, illustrate, and submit a publishing plan for a book on birds or bird conservation

*Submit a brief written description of what you intend to do no later than June 15, 2019, preferably earlier, to ybyc[email protected] or a direct message to the YBYC2020 in the Slack app.

Conservation/Community Leadership projects must be approved by ABA staff before you proceed.

Approval and/or tweaks and/or suggested changes will be given within the week of a proposal being acknowledged as submitted.  

You should expect to spend at least 40 hours on your project, not counting the 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, notable successes or failures, and what you learned or skills you developed along the way.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS for Conservation and Community Leadership Module: Files to be uploaded between Sept. 15 and midnight of Oct. 1, 2019.  

Your entry is to be uploaded in TWO formats:

  1. A thorough Powerpoint or Keynote presentation detailing your project and how you did it. Your presentations may include photographs, video, audio, charts, graphs, text*, links to websites, and/or other graphics and media. The goal is to tell us the story or stories of your project: how you planned or imagined it would go, how that matched the reality, what you learned, who or what was impacted, challenges you faced, people you met along the way, and so on.
  2. The same Powerpoint or Keynote presentation exported into a PDF.
  3. Attach a one page PDF personal biography which includes a photo, brief history of your birding, why you entered the contest and who has helped you along the way. (Only one biography needed per YBYC participant. You do not need to attach multiple biographies if you participate in multiple modules.)

*A special note about text in your PowerPoint and Keynote presentations: presentations are not designed to present large amounts of text. A good rule of thumb is not to use any font sizes smaller than 30 points, maybe 24 in a pinch. If you have supporting or explanatory text that needs to be included, you can either put it in the Presenter Notes, or just include a “text slide” or two where needed. Please, even for a text slide, do not use fonts smaller than 18 points.

We encourage and would like you to acknowledge adult mentoring and are curious as to how and from whom our young birders are getting such help. Please include a sentence or two letting us know if you had adult help, if any, and how much on this module.

File label for the Conservation and Community Leadership entry should follow this format:

ConCom-YourName-Age for example: ConCom-ChrisBirder-16

When you’re ready to submit your Conservation & Community Leadership project, make sure to complete this checklist:

  • 1. Submit your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.
  • 2. Submit the PDF of your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.
  • 3. Attach a one page PDF personal biography which includes a photo, brief history of your birding, why you entered the contest and who has helped you along the way. (Only one biography needed per YBYC participant. You do not need to attach multiple biographies if you participate in multiple modules.)

We will send you instructions for uploading your submissions closer to the submission date.

Failure to follow all submission requirements, especially file-naming protocols, will cause your entry to be disqualified. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification over email or Slack before the submission date. We want you to succeed and to enjoy participating.

The Illustration module involves rendering 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. with a maximum of 10.

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.

“Turnstone on a Stormy Day”–acrylic on board, by Anna Rose, 17.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS for Illustration Module: Physical Art Mail date starts Sept. 15 to arrive before Oct. 1. Digital files to be uploaded between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1.

The Illustration Module should be submitted in three parts:

  1. Submit the 6–10 originals by mail to the ABA Headquarters. We suggest you use priority mail or FedEx or UPS and get a tracking number to mail starting Sept. 15th and Oct. 1st:
    ABA-YBY
    93 Clinton Street #744
    Delaware City, DE 19706
  2. Scan or photograph the originals and submit as a single Powerpoint or Keynote presentation. The illustrations must be scanned or photographed as hi-res jpegs and inserted into the a Powerpoint or Keynote program. In other words, make a slideshow of all 5 to 10 of your illustrations you are submitting for the judges to review. Please include a single slide as an introductory slide to tell the medium used and title of piece before each art slide. (To be uploaded between Sept 15 and midnight  Oct 1, 2019)
  3. Export the Powerpoint or Keynote presentation complete with all the text slides to a PDF document. (To be uploaded between Sept 15 and midnight  Oct 1, 2019)

Please submit all entries in the Illustration module on art boards or paper within the size range of 8” x 10” up to 14”x 18”. If you would like to submit sculpture or some other medium or size please call for special permissions and instructions. We are happy to accept other sizes and mediums, as long as we consider the shipping and handling of these items they may require extra return shipping costs to submit.

We encourage adult mentoring and are curious as to who is giving and how much our young birders are getting help. Please include a sentence or two letting us know if you had adult help, if any, and how much on this module.

File label for the Illustration Module entry should follow this format:

Illustration-YourName-Age  for example:  Illustration-ChrisBirder-16

When you’re ready to submit your artwork, make sure to complete this checklist:

  • 1. Submit your 6-10 originals by mail to the ABA office. Please, get a tracking number. Mail starting September 15th to arrive before October 1st.
  • 2. Submit your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.
  • 3. Submit the PDF of your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation.
  • 4. Attach a one page PDF personal biography which includes a photo, brief history of your birding, why you entered the contest and who has helped you along the way. (Only one biography needed per YBYC participant. You do not need to attach multiple biographies if you participate in multiple modules.)

We will send you instructions for uploading your submissions closer to the due date.

Failure to follow all submission requirements, especially file-naming protocols, will cause your entry to be disqualified. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification over email or Slack before the submission date. We want you to succeed and to enjoy participating.

“The Eagle” by Sierra Glassman, 94 Words

Write about birds, birders, birding, and your experiences with any or all of them. Your writing can take the forms of 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 pages of writing samples and a maximum of 10 pages.

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.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS for Writing Module: Digital files to be uploaded between Sept. 15 and midnight Oct.1, 2019.  

Minimum entry is 6 pages of writing samples and a maximum of 10 pages. This count does not include the cover pages. The Writing Module should be combined and submitted as a single PDF document between to be uploaded between Sept. 15 and midnight Oct 1, 2019.

Each entry should include a cover page with:

  1. Your name,
  2. The title of the piece, and
  3. The word count before each writing piece submitted.

This cover page does not count as one of your 6-10 pages of writing.

cause your entry to be disqualified. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification over email or Slack before the submission date. We want you to succeed and to enjoy participating.

When you’re ready to submit your writing, make sure to complete this checklist:

  • 1. Combine your entries into a single PDF with a cover page in front of each individual entry.
  • 2. Submit your PDF online.
  • 3. Attach a one page PDF personal biography which includes a photo, brief history of your birding, why you entered the contest and who has helped you along the way. (Only one biography needed per YBYC participant. You do not need to attach multiple biographies if you participate in multiple modules.)

File label for the Writing Module entry should follow this format:

Writing-YourName-Age for example:  Writing-ChrisBirder-16

We will send you instructions for uploading your submissions closer to the due date.

We encourage adult mentoring and are curious as to how much and how our young birders are getting such help. Please include a sentence or two letting us know if you had adult help, if any, and how much on this module.

Look here for some expert advice offered by Birding magazine’s Editor, Ted Floyd on writing:

http://youngbirders.aba.org/2015/09/the-aba-young-birder-of-the-year-contest-advice-from-a-writing-module-judge.html

Failure to follow all submission requirements, especially file-naming protocols, will cause your entry to be disqualified. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification over email or Slack before the submission date. We want you to succeed and to enjoy participating.

Photographs for this module must be digital. All of the images of birds you submit should be of wild birds, though they may be interacting with people or man-made structures. For example, backyard and feeder birds are allowed. Photos will be judged on overall artistic merit, creativity and technical skill as well as labeling. Minimum entry is 6 photographs, with a maximum of 10.

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.

Photography submission by Max Nootbaar.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS for Photography Module:

The Photography Module is to be submitted in two formats:

  1. A single Powerpoint or Keynote presentation, uploaded between Sept. 15th and midnight of Oct. 1st, 2019 Make a slideshow of all 6 to 10 high-resolution photos that you are submitting for the judges to review. After each photo slide, please include a single slide as an summary slide. Make sure to include on that title slide:
  1. The title of the piece,
  2. The name(s) of the bird(s),
  3. The camera and settings used to take the photo, and
  4. A short two-to-five sentence commentary for each photo. Please, do not use fonts smaller than 18 points.
  1. Export your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation as a PDF, uploaded between Sept. 15th  and October 1st.

We encourage adult mentoring and are curious as to how our young birders are getting such help. Please include a sentence or two letting us know if you had adult help, if any, and how much on this module.

File label for the Photography Module entry should follow this format:

Photo-YourName-Age  for example:  Photo-ChrisBirder-16

When you’re ready to submit your artwork, make sure to complete this checklist:

  • 1. Combine your entries into a single Powerpoint or Keynote presentation, including a summary slide with each photo.
  • 2. Export your Powerpoint or Keynote presentation as a PDF.
  • 3. Attach a one page PDF personal biography which includes a photo, brief history of your birding, why you entered the contest and who has helped you along the way. (Only one biography needed per YBYC participant. You do not need to attach multiple biographies if you participate in multiple modules.)

We will send you instructions for uploading your submissions closer to the due date.

Failure to follow all submission requirements, especially file-naming protocols, will cause your entry to be disqualified. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification over email or Slack before the submission date. We want you to succeed and to enjoy participating.