Calgary Birding Challenge 2020

UPDATE JUNE 2020In March, Nature Calgary suspended all activities supporting the BirdYYC2020 Big Year Birding Challenge. The WhatsApp Rare Bird Alert Group was shut down. Group outings were cancelled.

During the past few months, many people continued to go out birding – albeit without carpooling and generally alone or with care to maintain physical distances. If birders submitted their eBird lists the results continued to show on their BirdYYC2020 patch list.

On June 18, the WhatsApp RBA Group was re-opened. Although the COVID-19 restrictions still apply, the BirdYYC2020 challenge will return with the focus shifting a bit more toward the “data collection” aspect and away from the “friendly competition” focus. Our hope is to allow comparison of the 2020 results with those of the 2000 and 2010 events.

Bird Calgary 2020

Nature Calgary is promoting a friendly “big year” birding challenge within Calgary city limits in 2020.



There have been two “big year” competitions in Calgary; 2000 and 2010. There were also “Calgary Region” competitions in 2005 and 2015.


Scope: An eBird “Patch” challenge

Challenge yourself to find as many species of birds as you can within the Calgary city limits in 2020! 

All sightings must be within the city limits. See link below.

  • Calendar year 2020.
  • Open to all.
  • No sub-categories for participants.
  • No entry fee or prizes.
  • No waivers. Nature Calgary field trips would have waivers exactly as per current practice.


Objective: A friendly competition

  • Share sightings.
  • Promote interest in birds and birding.
  • Enjoy Calgary’s natural areas.
  • More field trips.
  • Compare results with 2000 and 2010.


Challenge Guidelines and Procedures

The organizers are proposing the following guidelines and procedures to make the challenge more enjoyable and rewarding for all participants.

  • Participants “register” by adding an eBird patch (or re-naming their existing Calgary city-limits patch.) with the name: “BirdYYC2020” by January 1, 2020.
  • Participants are asked to send their name, ebird name and email address to Howard Heffler at: This will allow the organizers to communicate with active participants. At the end of the year, we will ask participants to share their species list to allow comparison with the results of the 2000 and 2010 competitions. 
  • We recommend that participants re-name their patch back to their own city-limits patch after the challenge year is completed.
  • Participants MUST share eBird lists and make sightings on eBird visible. The purpose is to allow all participants to chase sightings by others.  Specifically: on eBird, under My eBird, select Preferences; Data privacy – elect to NOT hide your eBird data.
  • Anybody at any time can see who is leading and his/her total number of sightings to date by looking on eBird at patch totals.
  • We have created “BirdYYC2020 RBA”, a WhatsApp group for sharing instant updates on unusual birds within the city limits of Calgary. To join the group, send a message to Gavin McKinnon (403) 519-8703.


Instructional Articles


Helpful Hints and Participant Expectations

  • There are about 200 hotspots in the Calgary “county”. All the ones within the city-limits (90) begin with the prefix “Calgary” or “Fish Creek PP”.
  • Over the next few weeks we will develop detailed procedures and instructions on helpful topics that might arise.
  • We hope to make a seasonal list of birds to help participants target specific species during each season.
  • Some species will be identified as “reportable” so you know what will be of special interest to everyone else.
  • Of course, we will do what we can to ensure participants respect private property, drive and act safely and responsibly, and follow ABA ethical guidelines: especially as it relates to protecting sensitive species.
  • We have maps of the city boundary in PDF format available.
  • Here, also, is an online Google map of Calgary.


Contact Us

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