2016 Great American Arctic Birding Challenge!

Congratulations to the 2016 Arctic Birding Challenge Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Great American Arctic Birding Challenge! Many thanks to everyone who participated, we hope you enjoyed the time outdoors and learned a little about the amazing birds that connect the Arctic, especially the Arctic Refuge, with your state.

There are two divisions for the Arctic Birding Challenge, one for the Lower 48 and one for Alaska, since the birds are converging on Alaska.

The competitive spirit was strong this year with the Polar Vortex team from Challis, Idaho breaking the 4-year-old overall record (previously held by the Water Ouzels from Anchorage, Alaska) by a whopping 9 species! It was a tough competition for second place in the Lower 48 division with three teams counting within 10 species of each other. The top team from Alaska was the Water Ouzels with a final tally of 143 species. 

Without further ado, here are the winners:


  • 1st Place: Water Ouzels (Anchorage, Alaska) with 143 Species (View the team checklist)
  • 2nd Place: The Wandering Prattlers (Soldotna, Alaska) with 127 Species
  • 3rd Place: The Lame Ducks (Seward, Alaska) with 104 Species


  • 1st Place: Polar Vortex (Challis, Idaho) with 162 Species (View the team checklist)
  • 2nd Place: Hyperborean Phalanx (Bellevue, Idaho) with 151 Species
  • 3rd Place: Pufted Tuffins (Missoula, Montana) with 143 Species 

Arctic Refuge Bonus Prize

The Arctic Refuge bonus went to teams that saw 10 or more Arctic Refuge-nesting species. ALL of the competing teams achieved the bonus, which just goes to show how many bird species everyone shares with the Arctic Refuge!

Will the Alaskan teams come back to reclaim the overall win next year?  Can somebody take on Polar Vortex to break their 162-species record? We’ll find out in the Arctic Birding Challenge 2017 next spring!

Great American Arctic Birding Challenge Checklist

Share this flyer with your chapter or birding club!

Birds from six continents rely on America’s Arctic in Alaska for nesting, breeding, staging, and molting; their ranges reach across the Lower 48 states and beyond. Birdwatchers from around the United States can test their skills in the Great American Arctic Birding Challenge this spring to find the most birds in their state from the contest checklist of Arctic birds. The contest runs from March 1 through June 1 so that birders all over the U.S. can spot birds as they migrate.

Try to beat the Challenge high count: 153 species in Alaska or 142 species in the Lower 48! Submit your completed checklist/registration form at the end of the contest (see deadline below).

  1. Recruit your team (up to six people). Find a warbler expert, your friend with the top-of-the-line scope, or someone with supersonic hearing to identify those sparrow calls…or head out with your regular birding buddies.
  2. Record your birds. If at least 2 team members (on teams of 2 or more) identify a bird by sight or sound, mark it on the Great American Arctic Birding Challenge checklist.
  3. Take your time and enjoy. This is a spring migration challenge–you have the entire spring to scour the countryside.
  4. Submit your checklist. Submit your completed checklist by email or fax before midnight (Alaska time!) or have it postmarked by June 1, 2016.

There are two categories: Alaska and Lower 48. All sightings must be within the geographic boundaries of the categories. For the Lower 48, states must be contiguous. There will be First, Second, and Third place prizes for each category. Each member of the First, Second, and Third place teams will receive a prize.

  • First Place:  Snowy Owl “Great American Arctic Birding Challenge” plaque featuring Bird of the Year artwork.
  • Second Place: Alaska author Bob Armstrong’s Guide to the Birds of Alaska, with a foreword by Audubon Alaska’s Executive Director Nils Warnock.
  • Third Place: Audubon Alaska ball cap featuring a Snowy Owl.
  • Arctic Refuge Bonus Prize: Since Audubon is celebrating the amazing Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, any teams that find 10 or more species that migrate to the Arctic Refuge (marked on checklist) will receive Audubon Alaska Bird of the Year stickers!

Please submit your entry form and final checklist via mail, email, or fax to:
Mailing address
Audubon Alaska
Attn: Beth Peluso, Great American Arctic Birding Challenge
431 West Seventh Avenue, Suite 101
Anchorage, AK 99501


(907) 276-5069 (please call or email to confirm we received your fax)

For more information or if you have questions, email or call (907) 276-7034.


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