The Greater Philadelphia Birdathon 2022

Mark your calendars and assemble your teams for the 1st  annual Greater Philadelphia Birdathon! This 24-hour, friendly birding competition will take place from 5pm on May 6th  to 5pm on May 7th . 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.

Teams will help raise funds for any non-profit conservation organization of their choosing that seeks to protect birds and the places they call home. And that’s important, because birds face significant challenges – from habitat loss and climate change, to decreasing food availability and increasingly difficult migrations. They need us to care about them before it’s too late, and there are plenty of local organizations that do just that.

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 organization for which your team will raise funds.
  • Make sure all teammates register under the same name, in the same category, and ideally before April 29th.
  • Plan where your team will bird, anywhere within Montgomery, Bucks, and/or Philadelphia Counties.
  • Go birding! Identify as many species as possible during the competition period.
  • Submit your checklist before 5pm on May 7th.
  • Celebrate with fellow birders!

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

More details below!

Categories

Traveling – Count all birds identified by sight or sound within the boundaries of the competition and during the 24-hour count period.

    • $35 registration fee per individual.
    • 2-10 Team members.
    • Teams may travel to multiple sites within the boundaries of the competition.
    • 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) for up to 4 hours.

    • $35 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:

    • $50 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.
Fundraising Partners

Geographic Scope

For any category, birds may only be counted from within Philadelphia, Montgomery, 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.

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, 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 receive bird feeding equipment – seed, hummingbird, and suet feeders, a bird bath, and plenty of seed – along with materials to make their windows bird-safe (approximately 1 billion birds die each year from colliding with windows). Representatives from Audubon will come out and help set up feeders and provide advice on ways to make the area even friendlier to birds.

This event is all about supporting birds and the places they need, and one of the best ways we can all do that is by supporting conservation organizations that seek to protect wildlife and their habitats. Teams can decide what organization or project will be the beneficiary of their raised funds. Any chosen organization must have 501c3 non-profit status with a mission that benefits birds and the environment, and any project must similarly be for the benefit of birds and/or their habitats.

Supporters can contribute prior to the Birdathon via online donation to their chosen non-profit organization, 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

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.

Swap Meet

Swap Meet, May 4th,  5pm, location TBD. On the Wednesday ahead of the event, we’ll host a little get together for all teams to come together and share tips and locations for finding different species. This is a great chance for new birders to learn about hot spots, and for everyone to exchange knowledge. We’ll go over the competition checklist while enjoying some light refreshments. It’s a fun way for everyone to meet and get excited for the competition!

After(birding) Party

After(birding) Party, May 7th at 5 pm, at Wissahickon Trails Headquarters, 12 Morris Road, Ambler, PA. 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.

2022 Checklist (pdf) – Use this checklist to record species and locations

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

EBird Recent Sightings

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.

I have a few general questions … who should I reach out to? Feel free to contact our Birdathon Coordinator, Margaret Rohde at margaret@wissahickontrails.org

Many thanks to our generous donors