Jan. 29, 2015

Nick Varvel took the overall high score, recording 302 bird species in 2014

PRATT – The second annual Kansas Birding Big Year came to an end on December 31, 2014. Forty-eight participants signed up for the competition, which is designed to get more folks outdoors and enjoying watching and counting birds. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Secretary, Robin Jennison, was intrigued with hosting such a competition after seeing the popular movie “The Big Year,” depicting avid bird watchers trying to see as many species as they could in a single calendar year. It looked like a fun way to get more people involved in wildlife watching in our state.

The competition was divided into three age categories: youth (17 and under), adult (18-64), and senior (65+).

Results for the 2014 competition are as follows:

Adult:    1st – Nick Varvel, Olathe, 302 species

            2nd – Jeff Calhoun, Dodge City, 291 species

            3rd – Glenn Caspers, Topeka, 286 species

Youth:   1st – Sam Schermerhorn, Wamego, 209 species

            2nd – Christian Becker, Marion, 202 species

            3rd – Joshua Keating, Milford, 103 species

Senior:  1st – John Row, Manhattan, 214 species

            2nd – Judith Collins, Salina, 210 species

            3rd – Dan Larson, Berryton, 209 species

Prizes for the competition were donated from several organizations, including Bass Pro Shop of Olathe, Bushnell Optics of Overland Park, Coleman Company of Wichita and Acorn Naturalists of Tustin, Calif., a supplier of resources for the trail and classroom. The winners of each of the categories will also each receive matted and framed original pencil drawings of native Kansas bird species, drawn and donated by Dr. Robert Penner of Ellinwood. Dr. Penner is the land steward and avian projects coordinator for the Nature Conservancy at Cheyenne Bottoms.

“Anything over 300 species in Kansas is considered a benchmark for a very good year,” said Mike Rader, KDWPT wildlife education coordinator. “Nick’s total is really outstanding.”

Rader added there is still plenty of time to sign up for the 2015 competition. For more information, visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Services / Wildlife Diversity / 2015 Kansas Birding Big Year.”