Tucson Audubon Society

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A Big Day Competition Like No Other

The Race is on, who can spot the most species in one day?
12:00AM to 11:59PM on Wednesday, August 12, 2015  (Results announced on Saturday, August 15)

Donate to support the Sky Islands Birding Cup teams!

Participating teams compete to observe the most bird species in 24 hours, while raising important funds for conservation.

MOQU_robertshantzThe challenges involved in this particular competition are intriguing. Many species wait exclusively for this time of year before singing, nesting, and generally becoming more observable. Still, others are not singing and must be detected visually or by use of call notes. At the same time, southbound migrants are arriving. This is when hummingbird numbers and species diversity peaks – as many as 15 species are possible! Migrant warblers, buntings, and other passerines are beginning to arrive as well. Thus, not every species can be “staked out,” and must be encountered by a combination of skill and luck on competition day. More than 200 species are possible, and the Arizona Big Day record stands at 199. How many birds can you find in a day? More info on monsoon birding

Rules & Forms

All teams must register. Competing teams must pay the appropriate registration fee and may raise funds on behalf of the bird conservation cause of their choice! There is no fee for Non-competing teams to participate; any fundraising by Non-competing teams must benefit Tucson Audubon.

Registration: Please fill out, scan and return your form to Diana Rosenblum at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Sky Islands Birding Cup Official Rules
Sky Islands Birding Cup Official Checklist

Online Donation Form:  Teams fundraising on behalf of Tucson Audubon, share this link with your sponsors
Offline Donation Form: For those wishing to make a donation to Tucson Audubon by mail
Pledge Tracking Form: For participants to record donations for later acknowledgement by Tucson Audubon

The Fund: Birders Giving Back

Registration fees from participating teams and sponsors cover the administrative costs of running the event, with additional pledges raised going toward Tucson Audubon conservation projects.

Besides the thrill of more than 200 species possible in a single day (including some jawdroppers found nowhere else) this event is also an opportunity to give back locally to those same birds through stewardship of important bird habitat.

The Competition: Categories and Pledges

See the Rules for complete details on how the game is played! We'll announce the results at the keynote dinner on Saturday, August 15..

A full description of each category is included in the Rules. In order to remain eligible for competition, all participants must count only species seen from within southeast Arizona (defined by Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Graham Counties). Competing Teams may fundraise for the bird conservation organization of their choice!  Funds raised by non-competing teams must benefit Tucson Audubon Society. 

Traditional Big Day
This is an all-out effort to see as many species as possible in 24 hours, within the confines of the Rules, of course (minimum team of 3 people). You have from 12:00AM to 11:59PM on August 12th, 2015 to find as many birds as you can. Heard birds, seen birds, common or rare, every “wild and unrestrained” bird counts! Intensive planning and scouting will be the key to a high species total. Which teams will take a crack at 200+ species…?

Youth Big Day
Same as the “Traditional Big Day,” but you must be 17 years of age or younger to qualify for this category! (An adult should accompany as the team driver.)

Little Circle, Big Day
Plunk yourself down and let the birds come to you! The concept is basically the same as a Big Sit: select a 17-foot diameter circle anywhere in southeast Arizona, and sit/stand/stay there as long as you want during the Big Day. Only birds detected while you are in the circle may be tallied, though someone may be sent outside of the circle to confirm an ID. Chairs, ladders and BBQs are all allowed!

“Little Circle Circuit” Big Day
The same as the “Little Circle, Big Day” above – but you can select up to 4 different circles to sit in during the day! The catch is that you cannot return to any previously visited circle… Get creative and drive less than a Traditional Big Day for a carbon conscious alternative.

Non-competing team or individual
Don’t care about winning an award? Just want to see a lot of birds and raise some bucks for Tucson Audubon Society? Great! This is the category for you. No team minimum. Collect some pledges, go out and see some birds; simple as that. Nightlife Social ticket and TBWF t-shirt available for a nominal fee.


2014 RESULTS - Coming soon



Traditional Big Day Teams
BIRDING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: J. Yerger, K. Kamper, and J. Mohlmann. 185 species       
HERONDIPITY: J. MacFarland, M. Brooks, R. Fray,  T. Helentjaris, S.Pike, R. Zarwell.  154 species      
NO EGRETS: T. Supplee, M. Weber, A. Tarbee. 136 species       Read their Big Day recap


Traditional Big Day Teams
BIRDING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: J. Yerger, K. Kamper, and J. Mohlmann. 174 species         Read their Big Day recap
VIREOSOS: J. MacFarland, M. Brooks, T. Helentjaris, S.Pike, R. Zarwell. 162 species         Read their Big Day recap


Traditional Big Day Teams
BIRDING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: J. Yerger, K. Kamper, and J. Mohlmann. 162 species
CAN'T STOP THE ROCK WRENS: J. MacFarland, V. Bothwell, R. Fray, K. Kroesen, and B. Nicholas. 137 species 

Non-competing teams UNDOCUMENTED AVIANS: M. Scram and J. Lewis.


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