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 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 should enter!

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, 2018. Any and all works submitted for the contest must be started and completed between those dates. Submitted materials are due by October 15, 2018.  With the exception of the Field Notebook and Illustration modules, all other entries must be submitted electronically. Contestants in the Field Notebook and Illustration modules must mail the originals to the ABA office. Please refer to the entry and submission guidelines for details.

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 15, 2018.  If you are not yet 10 on that day, or if you are 19 or over on that day, 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:  Entails taking field notes and making field sketches of birds as or immediately after you observe them in the field. Keeping such records is universally recognized as one of the very best means of sharpening your birding skills.
  • 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 eligible for receiving prizes.  The top 3 finishers in each module per age group will be listed on the ABA YBY 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.


  1.  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 2018 in each of the two age divisions.  Winners will be announced during the month of February 2018.

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:

  • 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, 2018.  Please send to:
    American Birding Association
    Attn: YBY Contest
    PO Box 744
    Delaware City, DE 19706
  • If you are a first time participant, use the “First Time” registration form.
  • If you participated in the past, use the “Repeat” registration form.
  • Actively participate in your selected module(s) throughout the contest period.
  • Submit your completed contest entries by October 15, 2018.
  • Include a one page PDF personal bio with a photo, brief history of your birding, why you entered the contest, and who has helped you along the way. 
  • We will send you specific, personalized submission requirements prior to October 1, 2018. We ask that you do not submit Photography, Conservation and Community Action, or Writing Module entries prior to receiving your instructions.
  • It is okay to mail in Field Notebooks and Illustration pieces but remember to retain scans of them them for uploading once you receive your uploading instructions. Photograph or scan them as high res JPEGs you will receive personalized submission requirements for these scans. 

Great Prizes for You to Win!

  • The Grand Prize winners for the Young Birder of the Year 2019 in each of the two categories will each receive a Leica Trinovid binocular, 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.

What Contestants Receive
With the first-time participant registration fee, you will receive an the official ABA Field Notebook, ABA Field Notebook How to Manual, a copy of a North American Birds Field Guide, and an ABA Trip List.  Repeat participants receive the ABA Field Notebook and the ABA Trip List.


Each module entry will be judged by a panel of three esteemed birding professionals with expertise in that particular field. Scoring is a composite, with each module’s work being appraised by the panel of judges based upon quality, accuracy, creativity, mechanics, techniques, and adherence to contest rules and submission guidelines.  Each contestant will receive a written evaluation from the judges critiquing the module entry with helpful remarks and advice.

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, benefiting our entire community.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

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


If you would like to become a sponsor or otherwise support the ABA Young Birder of the Year Contest, please contact [email protected]