Big Numbers For Mass Audubon’s Annual Bird-a-thon!
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN, MA—A love of birdlife, a facility for identifying birds in the wild, and an enthusiastic commitment to seek out species across the Commonwealth for 24 straight hours—those were again the hallmarks of Mass Audubon’s annual Bird-a-thon, May 17-18.
Beginning at 6 pm Friday, the 17th, birders on 30 teams fanned out across the state—by van, by foot, even by bike—in friendly competition to record the most species, right up to 5:59 pm on Saturday, the 18th.
Bird-a-thon is Mass Audubon’s biggest yearly fundraiser, thanks to team members and other supporters who garner thousands of dollars in pledges, and organizers are hoping to surpass the event’s largest single-year total of more than $200,000.
Thanks to the dedication of participants and great weather, a collective 268 species were identified by nearly 800 team members, who explored bird-friendly habitats from Cape Cod to the Berkshires, Cape Ann to the South Coast.
Mass Audubon’s celebration of birding, which began in 1983 with only eight participants, is marking its 30th anniversary. This year, the competition was quite close, with the top five teams separated by just 13 species.
Among the notable species recorded were Swainson’s hawk, a raptor of the Great Plains; and a pair of large wading birds: the majestic sandhill crane, typically associated with the prairies and plains; and a white-faced ibis, rarely see outside the Gulf Coast and Far West.
The competitors included Mass Audubon President Henry Tepper, who noted the event was emblematic of both the organization’s enduring commitment to birdlife and to the crucial role of people in monitoring and supporting biodiversity.
“Once again, Bird-a-thon brought out hundreds of birders whose goal was not only to record as many species as possible, but to enjoy one another’s company and appreciate the natural beauty of the Commonwealth,” Tepper said.
For initial Bird-a-thon results and species recorded, visit www.massaudubon.org/birdathon.
Mass Audubon protects 36,500 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state’s natural treasures for wildlife and for all people—a vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women. Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 125,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today’s and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at massaudubon.org.