Do you never leave the house without your binoculars?  Even indoors, are birds always on your mind? How would you like to stretch and grow your birding skills under the guidance of some of the most respected birders in North America and have a lot of fun in the process? If you are age 10 to 18 years old and enjoy any or all aspects of birding, then the ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest is for you!

The ABA YBY contest is designed to appeal to a broad range of interests and talents. Do you like to take detailed field notes on, or recordings of birds? Draw or photograph birds? Write about birds? Do you dream of being involved in bird conservation or bird-related community action?  If so, then you will want to enter this contest!

Contestants can choose from the five modules to customize the contest to fit their own talents and interests. Below, you will find the important details:

The contest runs from April 15 through October 1, 2019. Any and all works submitted for the contest must be started and completed between those dates. Submitted materials are due by October 1, 2019. With the exception of the Illustration modules, all other entries must be submitted electronically. Contestants in the Illustration modules must mail the originals to the ABA office, as well as submit digital files electronically, as stated in the module requirements. Please refer to the entry and submission details for more information.

There are two age groups eligible for module entry and overall Young Birder of the Year 10 to 13 and 14 to 18.  

Your age group is determined by your age on October 1, 2019. If you are not yet 10 on that day, or if you are 19 or over on that day, we sadly have to say, you are not eligible.

There are five modules in the contest. Two are major – Field Notebook and the Conservation/Community Leadership modules, the other three are supporting – Illustration, Writing, and Photography.

  • Field Notebook: Keeping a record of your sightings is one of the very best ways of sharpening your skills as a birder. For birders today, that means both written and digital record-keeping! Entrants in this module will submit both a sample of hand-written notes/sketches and an annotated eBird checklist. Entrants will be evaluated on the thoroughness of their documentation, as well as their ability to ask questions and discover new things.
  • Conservation/Community Leadership:  Here’s your chance to make a difference and change something you care about for the better. Pick a project involving conservation, education, or inspiring the enjoyment and/or protection of wild birds in others. Get it approved, carry it out, and document what you’ve done through writing, pictures, and/or video.
  • Illustration:  Involves detailed drawing or painting birds that you see and that interest you most.
  • 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.
  • Photography:  Photographing birds digitally to highlight their beauty, behavior, identification, or emotional impact.

Module Winners

There will be one 1st Place winner per age group in each of the five modules. Each winner will be eligible for receiving prizes. The top 3 finishers in each module per age group will be listed on the ABA YBYC results webpage.

Young Birder of the Year Winners

In order to compete for the overall Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize, you may:

1. Complete BOTH of the major modules – Field Notebook and Conservation/Community Leadership – in which case your overall score will be an average of the two modules.


2.  Complete ONE of the major modules – Field Notebook or Conservation/Community Leadership – and TWO of the three supporting modules – Illustration, Writing, or Photography. In this case your overall score will be 50% of your score on the major module plus 25% of your score on each of the two supporting modules.

We will be awarding a Grand Prize for the Young Birder of the Year 2020 in each of the two age divisions. Winners will be announced during the month of February 2020.

Previous Grand Prize winners for the Young Birder of the Year Contest may compete in individual modules provided they meet the age requirements, but they are NOT eligible to win the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prize more than one time in a given age division. It is possible to win the Grand Prize in the 10 – 13 Division, and then again in the 14 -18 Division, provided you meet the age requirements.

You are not required to compete for the Young Birder of the Year Grand Prizes to participate in the contest. You may choose to participate in one to five modules of your choice.

How to Enter

To have a chance to win, you’ll need to do the following by using our online YBY links:

  • Choose the modules (or module) in which you would like to participate.
  • Complete and send us your signed registration form with your entry fee by June 15, 2019. Please send to ABA P.O. Box 744 Delaware City, DE 19706 Attn: YBYC
  • If you are a first time participant, please use the “First Time” registration form.
  • If you have participated in any previous YBY Contest, please use the “Repeat” registration form.
  • Actively participate in your selected module(s) throughout the contest period.
  • Send us your completed materials by October 1, 2019
  • Specific, personalized submission requirements will be sent to you prior to October 1, 2019.  Please do not submit any module entries prior to receiving your uploading instructions.

Great Prizes for You to Win

  • The Grand Prize winners for the Young Birder of the Year 2020 in each of the two categories will each receive a pair of Leica Trinovid binoculars, courtesy of Leica Sport Optics, ABA Young Birder Programs Legacy Sponsor.
  • Each module winner in both age divisions will receive great birding-related prizes.
  • Winners may also have samples of their entries published in one of the ABA publications and/or on the ABA website, as well as in the promotional materials and websites of YBY contest sponsors.


Each module entry will be judged by a panel of three highly regarded birding professionals with expertise in that field. Scores will be assigned based on quality, accuracy, creativity, mechanics, techniques, and adherence to contest rules and submission guidelines. Use your creativity – but make sure to follow the instructions. Each contestant will receive a written evaluation from each judge with helpful remarks and advice. Repeat contestants are encouraged to use the feedback they receive to improve their submissions the following year.

Why Are We Doing This?

The ABA is committed to educating and developing good all-around birding skills in young, aspiring birders and providing them with the opportunity to receive personal advice and guidance from the pillars of our birding community.  By providing a goal oriented, age-appropriate and challenging contest, the ABA believes the young birders will discover new skills and enhance their talents, benefitting our entire community.

Thank You to Our Contest Supporters

A huge Thank You to Leica Our Young Birder Contest Legacy Sponsor

The YBY Contest has been blessed with some very loyal and dedicated supporters who show their support of nurturing young birders by generously donating prizes, services, and financial support.

Please visit our supporter page  and show your gratitude for their kindness.

If you would like to become a contest supporter or otherwise support the ABA YBY Contest, please contact [email protected].