Bird-a-thon History & Highlights
The first unofficial Bird-a-thon occurred in 1982 when a group of Mass Audubon staff including Jim Baird, Chris Leahy, Dave Clapp, Dick Forster and Jerry Bertrand headed out at 2:30 am on a cold, wet and windy May morning to bird in Essex County for 24 hours to raise funds for Bird Conservation at Mass Audubon. Over the next 24 hours, the team recorded 160 species, including a black-necked stilt sighted only 10 times previously in Massachusetts.
The very next year, this team of five illustrious birders was challenged by an unlikely group of three not-so-illustrious fundraisers from Mass Audubon’s headquarters staff and the first competitive Bird-a-thon was born.
In the ensuing years, thousands of volunteers and staff have raised more than $3 million to support Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries and programs across the state. In fact, Bird-a-thon is Mass Audubon’s largest annual fundraising event