Get Ready for the WFO 2023 Birdathon!

Male Tricolored Blackbird. Photo: Tom Blackman

It’s mid-winter now and the CBCs have come and gone. Do you have an exciting trip to the tropics coming up in the next few weeks? Me neither. But I have found a way to cope with the seasonal angst of short days, cold weather, and hopelessly hunkered-down birds. It’s time to begin planning for the WFO 2023 Spring Birdathon. Put these dates on your calendar: April 1–May 15.—Andy Mauro

Let’s Do It Again!
Who can forget? Back in the fall of 2021, 100 birders representing 17 different teams spread out across the west to record 271 bird species and raise $35,000 to support WFO’s programs. It was a wonderfully successful, fun event. In the afterglow of that first grand adventure, it became readily apparent that future WFO Birdathons would be a thing. The only question: What took us so long to finally decide to throw this party in the first place!

The WFO Birdathon—Why?
All the reasons behind WFO’s decision to have that first Birdathon back in 2021 still apply, and all the original goals and objectives remain in place. Birdathons are all about getting outside and going birding with good friends. The good-natured competition to “out bird” other teams by recording the greatest number or the most noteworthy species provides extra motivation and adds to the fun and excitement of the day. There’s also that “do good” desire to help raise funds to support all those valuable WFO projects and programs in the years to come. There are lots of reasons to participate in a birdathon. But for the WFO Board, one of the main reasons for that original birdathon was to sponsor an official WFO event designed to encourage members to get outside, go birding, and have fun. We’ve all learned that our love of birds and nature is always there, just waiting to lift our spirits and help us through the day.

Begin to Dream!
It’s time to start planning for that special day in April or May when all your dreams for WFO glory just might come true. Gather your friends. Share stories about those great birds you saw on your last spring outing, and talk about where you should spend your Birdathon day in the field. Should you pick a day in April, or might early May offer better prospects for your big day? We’ve learned that the earlier-forming teams seemed to have the best luck in both sponsorships attracted and birds recorded. Just saying

Sign Up!
The WFO 2023 Birdathon website officially launches on February 1. On that date, you can find the link to the WFO Birdathon webpages on the WFO website.

Tricolored Blackbird painting by John Schmitt.

Simple and More Tailored Features!
This year’s Birdathon website offers a new, easy-to-navigate platform full of enhanced graphics and special features. Our goal is to make it easy to participate. Everyone is welcome, regardless of any birding credentials one might or might not have in hand. The birds don’t care and neither do we! Rules and regulations are uncomplicated and easy to follow. Each team will now be able to create its unique team page to best express the members’ personalities. The software is designed to make this easy. But just in case, Jen Hajj is back as Birdathon administrator to help lend a hand when necessary.

More Birds, Less Smoke, Better Weather!
The big question for the WFO Board was whether to schedule this second Birdathon in the spring or in the fall.  Spring won out, and it will be interesting to compare the results. Our assignment for this Birdathon will be to try to expand that species list we compiled in the fall of 2021. For the several individual teams that recorded over 130 species in the fall Birdathon, that could pose an interesting challenge!

“Trikes” Rule!
The WFO Board has chosen the Tricolored Blackbird as the signature bird for the 2023 Birdathon. This declining species is in critical need of special attention and an extra measure of support. WFO is underlining this message by dedicating a portion of the money raised in the 2023 Birdathon to help support the Tricolored Blackbird. We are partnering with the Central Valley Bird Club and the Tricolor Working Group to select the specific conservation project that your Birdathon sponsorships will help support. As part of its conservation mission, WFO played an active role in the campaign that finally led to the CDFW official listing of the Tricolored Blackbird as “Threatened” in April 2018. Your participation in the WFO 2023 Spring Birdathon will support the effort to ensure this species survives the many challenges it faces.

Female Tricolored Blackbird. Photo: Mark Chappell

2023 WFO Birdathon T-Shirts
How can you brag about your love of birding and support for WFO if you don’t have a 2023 WFO Birdathon T-shirt? Do not fret—we’ve got you covered! Naturalist and artist John Schmitt has once again donated his original artwork to support the WFO Birdathon. His painting of the Tricolored Blackbird is being used to create the masthead for the Birdathon website and will be prominently featured on the WFO 2023 Birdathon T-shirt. Prior to April 1, we’ll post a link on the WFO Birdathon website for you to follow to pick out and order the style, size, color, and quantity of T-shirts you simply MUST have. Wear your Tricolored Blackbird T-shirt as a proud show of support for WFO and the threatened Trike.

So Help Me, Bird!
We hope you’ll get out there and go birding on WFO’s behalf. We think it might provide that special moment of purpose, help bring the world into better balance, and make us all feel a little better about life. Don’t miss it. This is big!

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  1. Can’t wait for Feb 1 to sign up. Andy this is a hellava write up. Hope this motivates many other WFO members to create teams to raise $$ for their unparalleled organization.