The 2023 WFO Birdathon Is On!

The Arctic blasts, atmospheric rivers, and other such weather nonsense that bedeviled us this spring have surely run their course by now. This is mid-April, for goodness’ sake. A new day has dawned, and the outdoors beckons. It is time for all you good birders to have your moment in the sun, to experience your joy in the chorus of springtime birds and the flights of feathered fancy that nature freely offers.

Let Your Sprits Fly!

The 2023 WFO Birdathon has been officially open for business since April 1 and will continue to run through May 15. Some of you have already gone out and had your day of fun. A bunch of you have already ordered one of those special 2023 WFO Birdathon T-shirts.

For the rest of you, take heart—there is still time! Just go to the WFO website and click on the link to the 2023 WFO Birdathon. Follow the simple prompts, and in a matter of seconds you can be officially on board and part of the action. Let your spirit run wild as you decide how you’d like to do your Birdathon.

Bobolinks Get Their Worms!

When we scheduled this Birdathon as a spring event, the Bobolinks team (Dave Shuford and Scott Carey) had a decision to make. They had already been doing a personal birdathon in the fall for WFO for several years, well before it became an official WFO event in 2021. But moving their birdathon to the spring would disrupt the continuity of their fall database, and that would never do.

So the Bobolinks politely informed the Birdathon Committee last fall that they had just conducted their birdathon for WFO, once again during the month of September. They had done their regular route, recorded their birds, and collected over $5,000 from their loyal sponsors. The checks were sent to the WFO treasurer with a request that the donations be credited to the 2023 WFO Birdathon. Well, alright! The committee was happy to accept and record the Bobolinks’ early-bird contributions. Congratulations to the Bobolinks for continuing to build their impressive database of fall observations and for their highly successful birdathon. You can read about their day on the Birdathon website.

Jon Dunn’s Costa Rica Team!

We were at first disappointed when we realized that participants on Jon Dunn’s WFO Costa Rica trip in April would be gone during much of the 2023 WFO Birdathon. Then we had a second thought. Let’s get them signed up as a team for the Birdathon! The participants are designating one of their days in Costa Rica as their Birdathon day. We aren’t sure how many species they’ll record, but we’re sure they’ll get the award for most hummingbirds and tanagers! Just to remind everyone—the Costa Rica contingent won’t be the first team outside the US to compete in a WFO Birdathon. That distinction falls to the LPPS Pishers, a team of dedicated birders from Vancouver, Canada, who earned their spot in WFO history by signing up and participating in the 2021 WFO Birdathon.

Are “Splits” Recognized in the Birdathon?

We’ve had queries from two different Birdathon teams who wondered if they could split their team into two or even three units, with each unit birding in a different locale. Both teams are based in California but wanted to establish a second unit birding in another state (Arizona for one team and Tennessee for the other). It was a case where the proposed wayward team member either lived or would be traveling out of state on the date of their team’s Birdathon. One of the teams not only requested that they be allowed a unit of their team to bird in another state, but wondered if another team member who would be traveling in Spain during the Birdathon might be able to lead a Spanish unit. The prospective foreign birding contingent of the 2023 WFO Birdathon was quickly expanding its range!

Sure, why not! Our goal has always been to keep things as simple as possible, and the rules and regulations to a minimum. We want to have fun and raise a little money for WFO and Tricolored Blackbird conservation. We did decide to impose a couple of rules for the split teams, however. Each unit of a team would need to conduct their day in the field during the same 24-hour calendar day (according to the time zone at the locale being birded). We also request that the team report the birding totals of each unit separately, as well as reporting a composite team total. That way we’ll be able to recognize team achievements in several categories: Traditional (most species recorded by a team birding as a single group); State Champion (most species recorded by a team within a state); Foreign Champion (most species recorded by a team within a country outside the US); and Most Total Species Overall.

How you do your Birdathon is up to you, and there are endless ways for you to customize your experience. For the 2021 Birdathon, Kimball Garrett formed a one-man team and birded entirely on foot in one discrete location. He tallied 99 species with a zero carbon footprint left behind! The Stanislaus Audubon Photo Bombers only counted birds they were able to photograph, and had over 120 images on their bird list. We had youth teams and a team whose members were all in that “well over 70” generation. Do you have a novel idea for your Birdathon? Let us know. We’d be pleased to accept your entry and delighted to figure out an appropriate way to highlight your contribution.

Finally, if you are a resident of one of those “other” western states (you know—not from California), we are especially anxious to get you on board! Have you ever dreamed of winning a state championship? This could be your chance!  If your team pulls it off and records the most species from your state, we’ll award you a special “WFO Certificate of Merit.” Your impressive certificate will officially acknowledge your state championship status and will be quite suitable for framing. Unfortunately, we’ll have to leave it to you to print up those business cards with your new title.

Go ahead, get involved, and put on a happy face. It’s all good, and it’s all for a good cause.

Good birding everyone!

—Andy Mauro, WFO Birdathon Committee

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