2008 Bird-a-thon Results & Highlights

For the third year in a row, rainy weather dampened birding efforts during Mass Audubon's 25th annual Bird-a-thon, held May 16-17. Despite the soggy weather, nearly 700 dedicated birders braved the elements as they combed the Commonwealth searching for different species, each of which potentially represented "a buck for a bird."

Unlike Bird-a-thon 2007, many migrants that were present early in the week escaped before the rain on Friday, thus leaving Saturday somewhat "migrant thin." Despite the numerical paucity, however, diversity was excellent.

From shearwaters and shorebirds along the coast, to locally rare Short-eared Owls and Grasshopper Sparrows in Bay State grasslands, birders successfully located a cumulative

Bird-a-thon total of 258 species—a figure representing a significant percentage of the bird species occurring in Massachusetts during this season. Among the notable rarities tallied during the 24-hour birding classic were White-faced Ibis, Purple Gallinule, and Black-headed Grosbeak.

Drumlin Farm won the coveted Brewster Cup with a total of 224 species. The Hatheway Cup (for most money raised by a sanctuary) also went to Drumlin Farm team with their whopping total of $42,018.00. Preliminary indications are that this year's overall income exceeded $143,000, and the final amounts realized will likely exceed previous Bird-a-thon records for this annual classic birding and fundraising event. Kudos to all for their participation and generosity!

Please note that teams have until June 30 to compete for the 351 Challenge Award, which will be awarded to the team with sponsors from the greatest number of cities and towns in Massachusetts.


Trophy Winners

Brewster Cup Drumlin Farm (224 species) 
Forbush Award Blue Hills Trailside Museum (219 species) 
Hatheway Cup Drumlin Farm ($42,018.00) 
The $ Cup Joppa Flats ($16,715.80) 
Statewide Migration Award Endicott/North Shore (503%) 
IBA Regional Award (low carbon footprint award): The IBA Team (90% of par value for the South Shore region)

Final Results by Sanctuary


Number of Birders

Species Counted

2008 Est. Total

Allens Pond 47 157 $1,825.50
Berkshires 45 193 $3,475.00
Blue Hills 43 219 $5,000.00
Boston Nature Center 38 172 $5,000.00
Broad Meadow Brook 17 121 $4,000.00
Broadmoor 30 179 $4,447.00
Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries 49 187 $1,287.00
Drumlin Farm 50 224 $42,018.00
Drumlin Farm Young Birders IBA 16 94  
Endicott 12 137 $3,733.95
Felix Neck 14 104 $2,773.20
Gordon's Gaggle 27 152 $5,623.80
Habitat 10 177 $2,046.00
IBA Team 15 153 $7,000.00
Ipswich River 37 211 $9,435.80
Joppa Flats 47 188 $16,715.80
Long Pasture & Coastal Waterbird 33 167 $4,900.00
Moose Hill 16 140 $1,010.00
Oak Knoll 4 101 $270.00
South Shore 9 134 $850.00
Stony Brook 37 173 $8,730.00
Wachusett Meadow 35 155 $3,000.00
Wellfleet Bay 35 155 $5,413.60
Wildwood 9 160 $3,165.00
Total 675 258 $143,098.50

Regional Migration Awards 

For sanctuaries/teams showing the greatest percentage increase in fundraising from 2007 to 2008 (the percentage increase is based on the actual results from 2007 and the totals reported on the 2008 Bird-a-thon Final Financial Report form). All will receive a Mass Audubon funded pizza or ice cream party for the staff or Bird-a-thon team.

Greater Boston: Endicott (503%)

Central/Western: Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries (44%)

Southeast and Islands: Felix Neck (174%)

Other: IBA Team (67%)

Top Individual Fundraisers 

For team members (non-staff) raising the most money for their team. (Minimum of $250 required)

Statewide Top Individual Fundraiser 
The winner this year is Kathy Clayton-Seymour (who was also the winner in 2007) of Drumlin Farm's team. She raised $15,420 and also contributed to other sanctuary Bird-a-thon efforts as well. Congratulations to Kathy Clayton-Seymour! She will receive a photo generously donated by master bird photographer Shawn P. Carey of Migrations Productions, framed and matted by Mass Audubon. As the lucky winner, Kathy will have the opportunity to choose her prize from among a selection of Mr. Carey's fine photographs.

Top Three Fundraisers by Region 

Each individual will receive a Mass Audubon backpack.

Greater Boston: Carol Gladstone, Gwen Shipley, and Julia Yoshida (Kathy Clayton-Seymour was top Individual Statewide Fundraiser)

Southeast and Islands: Peter Erskine, J.A. Ives, and Jon Panek

Central/West: Anne Lombard and Dan Russell

Other: Michael Pappone, Stephanie Hill, and Rob Finch

Honorable Mention 

The good news is that it was difficult to highlight only three top fundraisers per region, so special recognition is due to these additional team members for their fundraising success: Ava Steenstrup, Strickland Wheelock, Pam Chatis, Dan Fournier, Linda Pivacek, Peter and Marygrace Barber, Noel Mann, Roberta Hodson, Nancy and Chris Cristiciello, Don Wilkinson, and Dan Hershey.

Young Birders Award 

Birder under the age of 18 who raised $200 or more: Dan Fournier, Anna Stunkel, Milo Schindler, Chris La Rosse, James Ossam, Shoshana Boardman, Jonah Boardman, Miriam Boardman, Noah Lawes, and Jack Tripp. Each individual will receive a Mass Audubon backpack.

351 Challenge Award 

Still to be awarded - this prize will go to the team that has sponsors from the greatest number of cities and towns in Massachusetts by June 30.

Outstanding Species Sightings 

The grand total of recorded species was 258. Outstanding rarities included the white-faced ibis, purple gallinule, and black-headed grosbeak. Other notable sightings included the White-faced Ibis, Purple Gallinule, and Black-headed Grosbeak. Other notable sightings included the Greater Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Cattle Egret, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Clapper and King Rails, Common Moorhen, American Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Western Sandpiper, Black-legged Kittiwake, Caspian Tern, Arctic and Black Terns, Common Murre, Short-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Philadelphia Vireo, Sedge Wren, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Bicknell's Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, and Rusty Blackbird.

Marketing and Outreach 

This year, 150 people made online pledges and donations. To date, the Bird-a-thon webpage has received 3,575 views, and more than 36 articles appeared in newspapers or other media across the state.

In addition, there was excellent TV coverage from meteorologist Mish Michaels of WBZ-TV (channel 4) on Friday, May 16. Finally, the Gatehouse Media Arts & Entertainment editor for 22 community newspapers in the Metro West and North Shore areas blogged about Bird-a-thon in April (which included an interview with Mass Audubon's Chris Leahy); in the print edition of each paper, there was a short news story and photo that invited readers to read more on the blog.


There were 675 participants this year, with one out of every five teams more than doubling in size. More than 60% of teams were the same size or larger than last year. The team t-shirt, for team members who raised $75 or more or brought in at least 10 sponsors, was popular with more than 200 birders this year. Congratulations to all who successfully recruited new people and raised money for the Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon.

Other Highlights 

The Young Birder team from Drumlin Farm made an excellent second-year showing, birding under the low-carbon-footprint IBA rules. One seven-year-old birder from Allens Pond challenged family and friends to match the contents of his piggy bank!

Several of the winners of the Young Birder award this year are in elementary school, continuing the strong tradition of young birder participation in the Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon—they are to be congratulated on their efforts and interest in the natural world.

Thank you to everyone who made Mass Audubon's 25th Bird-a-thon a tremendous success!