Greater Philadelphia Birdathon

Mark your calendars and assemble your teams for the 2nd annual Greater Philadelphia Birdathon! This 24-hour, friendly birding competition will take place from 5pm on May 5th to 5pm on May 6th. Whether you’ve been birding for decades or just started noticing the birds in your backyard, all skill levels are welcome to participate, because this event is all about one thing: celebrating and supporting bird populations, together.

Teams will help raise funds for any non-profit conservation organization, birding organization, Birdtown, or specific project of their choosing that seeks to do any or all of the following:

      • Protect birds and their habitat,
      • Make our communities bird friendly,
      • Make birding more accessible and inclusive for all.

Birds are facing significant challenges – from habitat loss and climate change, to decreasing food availability and increasingly difficult migrations. They need us (all of us) to care about them before it’s too late. This event will help raise funds for the people who are working to support bird populations and those who seek to make birding something that everyone can enjoy.

How it Works

      • Gather at least 1 teammate and as many as 10 (if you’re the one putting together a team, that makes you the Team Captain!).
      • Come up with a team name, which can be anything you want.
      • Pick your competition category.
      • Choose a non-profit conservation or birding club/organization, Birdtown, or project, for which your team will raise funds.
      • Make sure all teammates register under the same name, in the same category, and ideally before April 28th.
      • Plan where your team will bird, which can be anywhere within Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and/or Philadelphia Counties.
      • Go birding! Identify as many species as possible during the competition period.
      • Submit your checklist before 5pm on May 6th.
      • Celebrate with fellow birders at the After(birding) Party at 6pm!

Your registration fees will cover Wyncote Audubon’s event expenses, including the costs of an event sticker and refreshments for the Swap Meet and After(birding) Party.

More details below!

Categories

Traveling – Count all birds identified by sight or sound within Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and/or Philadelphia Counties and during the 24-hour count period.

    • $20 registration fee per individual.
    • 2-10 Team members.
    • Teams may travel to multiple sites within any of the above listed counties.
    • All birds must be seen/heard by two team members to be confirmed and listed.
    • We are using the honor system – teams are trusted to only list birds seen during the 24-hour period and within the boundaries of the competition.

Big Sit – Count all birds identified by sight or sound from a single spot (30-foot diameter circle) within Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, or Philadelphia County for up to 4 hours.

    • $20 registration fee per individual.
    • 2-10 members per team.
    • The count can take place any time during the 24-hour period, and does not have to be done all at once. For example, a team may bird for 2 hours, take a break, and then bird for 2 more hours, rather than a straight 4. The same 30-foot circle must be used, however.
    • Teams should use the 30-feet diameter circle as a guide to help them stay in the same place – it does not have to be marked out. Once you pick your spot, don’t move your chair!
    • We are using the honor system – teams are trusted to only list birds seen during the 4 hours reported on the checklist, not anything observed the rest of the 24-hour period.
    • All birds must be seen/heard by two team members to be confirmed, so while team members can leave the circle at any time, it’s a good idea to have two people stay within the circle during any counting hours.
    • Team members can also leave the circle to get a better look/listen at a particular bird, but once out of the circle, no new species observed can be listed, unless they are visible/audible from back within the circle, or if a team mate still within the circle can hear/see them from the circle.

Backyard Sit – Count all birds seen or heard from a single residence. Same as above rules for Big Sit, except:

    • $30 registration fee per residence.
    • Counting is not limited to a maximum of 4 hours and can be done throughout the 24-hour period.
    • “Backyard” constitutes the area surrounding a residence (house, apartment etc.).
    • Only birds seen/heard from within the boundaries of the “yard” (which includes the front, back, and sides of property) or from inside the residence may be counted.

18 & Under – NEW in 2023! All team members must be 18 or younger. Teams may choose between Traveling, Big Sit, or Backyard Sit categories.

    • $10 registration fee per individual.
    • 2-10 Team members.
    • Teams may travel to multiple sites within the any and all of the counties listed above.
    • All birds must be seen/heard by two team members to be confirmed and listed.
    • Adults are allowed to travel with and support the team, but cannot point out birds or identify species.
    • We are using the honor system – teams are trusted to only list birds seen during the 24-hour period and within the boundaries of the competition.

Geographic Scope

For any category, birds may only be counted from within Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, and Bucks counties.

Rules for Counting Birds

Participating teams must abide by the following rules in order to be eligible for prizes:

    • Team members may only bird for one team.
    • It is encouraged that teams stay together at all times, so that every individual has the chance to see or hear the birds being counted, and so that at least two people can confirm a species.
    • Anything seen or heard by only one person is not to be counted.
    • Team members can come and go throughout the event and do not have to remain with the team for the entire time the team is birding.
    • If a team splits up (maybe some folks want to take a break, and others want to continue birding), only birds identified by those with the Team Captain may be counted. This is to ensure that teams don’t split up in order to get more birds and to keep things fair.
    • Birds must be alive, wild, and unrestrained, including those at feeders. Injured birds may be counted if wild and unrestrained. Eggs do not count as birds. Neither ornamental waterfowl nor escaped cage birds can be counted.
    • Only full species can be counted (no “gull sp.” or “sparrow sp.”). Use the checklist provided to record species, as this is what will be submitted at the end of the 24-hour period.
    • Of course, eBird is an option for teams, but only the checklist will be used to determine the winners.
    • Participants are expected to practice good birding behavior and follow the American Birding Association’s Code of Birding Ethics.
    • Do not trespass on private property in order to get a bird.
Awards

Prizes will be awarded at the end of the count to the teams in each category that identify the most species over the competition period.

Blackpoll Award

Of all migratory songbirds, blackpoll warblers travel the greatest distance during the spring and fall, flying for an incredible three days straight without stopping.

The Blackpoll Award will go to the team in the Traveling category that identifies the most species across Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, and/or Philadelphia Counties over 24 hours. Each member will receive a paid-for ticket to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary and be able to choose a date to visit.

Barred Owl Award

While searching for prey, Barred owls keep to a single perch, staying motionless. They rely on their sharp eyes and ears to help them key in to any small sounds and movements around them.

The Barred Owl Award will go to the team in the Big Sit category that identifies the most species in 4 hours during the competition period. Each team member will receive a paid-for ticket to the Morris Arboretum, and can visit whenever they choose.

Habitat-at-Home Award

In a world where habitat doesn’t always come easy for wildlife, we have to do all we can to ensure that birds travel safely through our own backyards during migration and are able to find food, water, and shelter year-round.

The Backyard Sit team that identifies the most species will be able to pick out bird feeding equipment of their choice for a value of up to $100. This can include hummingbird, regular, or suet feeders, a bird bath, and plenty of seed/suet, bird-friendly tape, or any other products available at Wild Birds Unlimited in Dresher, PA.

Spark Bird Award

Spark birds are what get us into the game. They grab us with their colors, their song, their behavior, their capacity to survive, their rareness, or even their commonness. Spark birds are the first highlight in what can become a lifelong passion. Some of us are lucky to find them early in our lives (say when we’re 18 or younger) and they remains favorites forever.

The 18 & Under team that spots the most species will have the opportunity to visit the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia for a behind the scenes tour with Ornithology collection manager, Nate Rice.

Fundraising

This event is all about supporting birds and the places they need, and encouraging all people get out and enjoy them and one of the best ways we can all do that is by raising funds for the great work being done by birding and conservation organizations, Birdtowns, and special projects that are meant to protect birds and their habitats, make our communities bird-friendly, and help make birding more accessible and inclusive for all.

Supporters can contribute prior to the Birdathon via online donation to their chosen non-profit organization, birding organization, or project, or can raise funds for their cause independently through Facebook or other fundraising platforms. Fundraising is the responsibility of each team and its members.

Here are a few partner organizations we recommend:

Wissahickon Trails

Tookany-Tacony Frankford Watershed Partnership

Briar Bush Nature Center

Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education

Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust

Friends of the Wissahickon

In Color Birding Club

To Support Wyncote Audubon and Bird Safe Philly GO HERE

A great way to raise funds for your chosen organization is to create a Facebook Fundraiser. All you need is an account, and it’s an easy way to ask friends and family to donate toward your Birdathon team’s chosen non-profit while raising awareness about why you’re participating in the event. You can learn how to set one up here.

Tools for Birdathon Participants

2023 Checklist (pdf) – Use this checklist to record species and locations. 2023 checklist will be added soon!

There are a lot of great places to bird throughout Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. A great way to plan your birding itinerary is to check out eBird.org for the top hotspots by county.

Bucks County Hotspots on EBird

Montgomery County Hotspots on EBird

Philadelphia Hotspots on EBird

Delaware

Chester

EBird Recent Sightings

Swap Meet After-Birding Party
  • Swap Meet, May 3rd, 6pm. Location: Ambler, PA 19002. Park at 12 Morris Road – more details will be shared with all who RSVP yes to the Swap Meet at registration. This little get together is for all teams to mingle, share tips and locations for finding different species, and learn what birds are “freebies” that each team can count without seeing or hearing. It’s a chance for new birders to learn about hot spots, and for everyone to exchange knowledge. It’s a fun way for everyone to meet and get excited for the competition!
  • After(birding) Party, May 6th, 6pm. Location: Pavilion at Lorimer Park, 183 Moredon Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006. Once all the birds have been seen, and all the checklists have been submitted, it’s time to celebrate and announce the winners! All teams can come together to enjoy buffet-style refreshments and share their favorite birding moments.
Frequently Asked Questions for Birdathon Participants

Does my team have to stay together at all times? At least two team members must see or hear any bird species for it to count, and teams are not allowed to split up to cover more ground.

How can I get support with fundraising? If you need help setting up a Facebook fundraiser, or would like advice on what to say when asking for donations, reach out to us at wyncoteaudubonsociety@gmail.com.

I’m having trouble with the registration process? Contact us at wyncoteaudubonsociety@gmail.com and we’ll help you get registered!

How long do I have to fundraise? There is no deadline! However, it’s a good idea to get as many donations as possible ahead of the event or before the end of May.

Many thanks to our generous donors.