2009 Bird-a-thon Results & HIghlights


Following three consecutive years of rainy weather during Mass Audubon's annual Bird-a-thon, this year's event on May 15-16 was precipitation free and generally sunny and pleasant. Despite a cool start on both Friday evening and Saturday morning, 688 enthusiastic birders ventured forth to comb the Commonwealth in search of as many bird species as possible during the 24-hour Bird-a-thon period. Although Bird-a-thon Saturday saw lovely conditions, migration was relatively thin. Nonetheless species diversity was outstanding, with a superb roster of species located during the birding classic. Included among a robust cumulative total of 271 species, a number of unusual species were logged this year.

Particularly noteworthy was the exceptional number of lingering winter visitors, including:

  • King Eider
  • Snowy Owl
  • Northern Shrike
  • American Tree Sparrow
  • White-winged Crossbill.

Among a cadre of southern species present were:

  • Chuck-will's-widow
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Summer Tanager
  • Blue Grosbeak.

Other recorded avian luminaries included:

  • Sandhill Crane
  • Little Gull
  • Long-eared Owl
  • Sedge Wren.

Because the Bird-a-thon is an event for birders of all ages and levels of experience, undoubtedly some of the more common species will be those longest remembered by some of the newer or younger Bird-a-thon participants - and therein lays the great joy of birding!

Winners of the much sought after Brewster Cup for the most species recorded by a Bird-a-thon team went to Drumlin Farm with their blistering total of 228 species. In second place and the winner of the Forbush Award was Blue Hills Trailside Museumwith 224 species. The IBA Award (a.k.a. The Low Carbon Footprint Award) went to theIBA Team with 165 species (97% of the birding par value for the South Shore IBA Region).

The Hatheway Cup for most money raised by a sanctuary also went to Drumlin Farmwhose teams have raised $45,080. The total raised by all teams combined statewide will exceed $178,000, and the hard work of all fundraisers is to be commended as this year's Bird-a-thon has drawn more supporters already than any prior Bird-a-thon. Eleven of the teams increased their fundraising by over 40%, and seven teams raised over $10,000. Kudos to all for their participation and to the donors for their generosity!


Trophy Winners

Brewster Cup (1st place team for most species seen during Bird-a-thon)

Drumlin Farm (228 species)

Forbush Award (2nd place team for most species seen)

Blue Hills Trailside Museum (224 species)

Hatheway Cup (1st place team for most money raised)

Drumlin Farm ($45,080)

The $ Cup (2nd place team for most money raised)

Joppa Flats ($14,582.30)

Statewide Migration Award (greatest % increase in fundraising total from the previous year)

South Shore (312%)

IBA Regional Award (low carbon footprint award)

The IBA Team (97% of par value for the South Shore region)

Final Results by Sanctuary


# of Birders

Species Counted

2009 Estimated Total

Allens Pond 48 171 $4,400
Atlas Team 5 117 $1,500
Berkshires 32 188 $3,881
Blue Hills 50 224 $4,000
Boston Nature Center 38 154 $12,904
Broad Meadow Brook 24 142 $4,300
Cape Ann (Endicott) 9 151 $3,679
Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries 38 183 $1,560
Drumlin Farm 50 228 $45,080
Drumlin Farm Young
Birders IBA
20 97  
Felix Neck 23 116 $4,244
Gordon's Gaggle 24 151 $13,700
Habitat 13 183 $4,656
IBA Team 20 164 $14,000
Ipswich River 50 222 $10,817
Joppa Flats 40 182 $14,582
Long Pasture &
Coastal Waterbird
34 168 $8,709
Moose Hill 21 153 $1,535
Oak Knoll     $425
South Shore 16 150 $3,447
Stony Brook 32 168 $10,976
Wachusett Meadow 20 139 $2,160
Wellfleet Bay 39 191 $3,790
Wildwood 8 165 $1,485
Total 688 Birders 271 Species $178,330

Regional Migration Awards 

For sanctuaries/teams showing the greatest percentage increase in fundraising dollars from 2008 to 2009 (the percentage increase is based on the actual results from 2008 and the totals reported on the 2009 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: Boston Nature Center (112%) 
Central/Western: Stony Brook (64%) 
Southeast and Islands: Allens Pond (138%) (South Shore won the Statewide Migration Award for greatest percentage increase in fundraising statewide.) 
Headquarters Teams / Other: Gordon's Gaggle (172%)

Statewide Top Individual Fundraiser

The winner this year is Kathy Seymour (who was also the 2007 and 2008 winner) of Drumlin Farm's team. She raised $14,826 and also contributed to other sanctuary Bird-a-thon efforts as well. Congratulations to Kathy Seymour! She will receive an original painting generously donated by acclaimed wildlife artist Barry van Dusen.

Top Three Fundraisers by Region

Each will receive a Mass Audubon tote bag.

Greater Boston: Ann Gurka, MaryGrace Barber, Strickland Wheelock (Kathy Seymour was top Individual Statewide Fundraiser) 
Southeast and Islands: Peter Crosson, Mike Sylvia, Jack Tripp 
Central/West: Timothy O'Leary, Ann Lombard, Stephanie Hill & Family 
Headquarters Teams / Other: Sally Ferbert, Michael Pappone, David McGlynn 
Honorable Mention: The good news it that is was difficult to highlight only three top fundraisers per region, so special recognition is due to these additional team members for their fundraising success: Gwen Shipley, Mike Boss, Julia Yoshida, Ava Steenstrup, Roxane Larouche, Ryan and Darcy Evans, Susan Coe, Betty Valentine, William Atwater, and Roberta Hodson who all raised over $1,000. Many, many Mass Audubon employees also raised over $1,000.

Young Birders Award

Any birder under the age of 18 who raised $200 or more will receive a Mass Audubon tote bag: Vanessa Hill, Dan Fournier, Shoshana Boardman, Jonah Boardman, Miriam Boardman, Chris LaRosse, Anna Stunkel, James Ossam, Jeffrey Ossam, Michael Ossam, Will Henrichon, Milo Schindler, and Jack Tripp.

Outstanding Species Sightings

The grand total of recorded species was 271. Outstanding rarities included the Sandhill Crane, very unusual in the state, even though it started nesting in Massachusetts in the last couple of years; the late and out-of-season Snowy Gull; the reclusive Long-eared Owl; and the exceptionally late Northern Shrike, American Tree Sparrow and White-winged Crossbill. Other noteworthy species included the King Eider, Northern Fulmar, American Golden-Plover, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, Chuck-will's-widow, Sedge Wren, Prothonotary Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager and Blue Grosbeak. The outstanding missing species was the Golden-winged Warbler, not seen by any team.

Other highlights

The Young Birder team from Drumlin Farm made an excellent third-year showing, birding under the low-carbon-footprint IBA rules. Several of the winners of the Young Birder award this year are in elementary school and there are a couple of sets of brothers and sisters birding together, continuing the strong tradition of young birder participation in the Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon. Congratulations to all young birders for their efforts and interest in the natural world.

Thank you to everyone who made this year's Bird-a-thon a tremendous success!