When: Mon Jan 14th
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Where: Cape Cod Museum of Natural History | 869 Route 6A | Brewster
Free and all welcome
An Evening with Sandy Komito, reigning ABA Big Year record holder portrayed in “The Big Year”
During the eighties and nineties, Sandy Komito was the most traveled birder in North America and would chase after any report of a bird he hadn’t yet seen. He thought nothing of leaving for the airport within twenty or thirty minutes of a report and race to the reported location, thoroughly enjoying the thrill and excitement of the chase. By reacting this quickly, he was able to be successful in more than 60% of the chases.
In North America during most of the eighties and nineties, he regularly recorded more than 500 birds per year, in two of the years seeing over 600 and two others seeing more than 700! In 1987, when he was employed full time, he tied for the ABA record for the most birds seen in a single year with 722. After retiring from business in 1992, he often thought about what he might have done to improve upon the 1987 record.
Eleven years later, in 1998, it was an El Nino year and the Aleutian Island of Attu was very shortly due to be closed down permanently. Timing-wise, he became convinced if he was to try and break his eleven year-old record, 1998 had to be the year. By again returning to Attu Island in 1998, it became the twelfth time he had visited this magical island so far from civilization.
In 1998 he spent 270 days away from home in the pursuit of all the birds to be found in North America that year. He also logged nearly 275,000 miles (nearly 80% of which was by air). By year’s end, he had totaled the incredible number of 745 birds plus four others that weren’t yet on the ABA list. It took several years before three of the four sightings were accepted by the individual State Rare Bird Committees and finally the ABA Checklist Committee. This brought the official total to 748, a record that still stands today.
Sandy began his love of birding at age eight but did not begin keeping serious records until age eleven or twelve. In 1957, he married his late wife Bobbye, the love of his life, in a marriage that lasted a little over fifty years. They have three children and six grandchildren. He’s the current ABA Big Year record holder and the only birder in North America to ever complete two Big Years. In addition to his portrayal in the book and later the movie version of “The Big Year”, Sandy is the author of two books about his birding exploits: “I Came, I Saw, I Counted” and “Birding’s Indiana Jones: A Chaser’s Diary”.
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