March 25, 2006

Farthest North Birdathon 2006

It's that time of year, again. The snow is melting, the ice is thawing, and the frozen dog poop is emerging. It's also time to start planning this year's birdathon.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of competetive birding, it's really quite simple. Take a bunch of dorks who like birds, stick them in a car and give them 24 hours to identify as many birds by sight and/or sound as they can. The team that finds the most species wins. Simple enough, right?

Well, when you start talking to serious bird nerds, like me, things get a bit more complicated. Now, the rules for the "Farthest North Birdathon," a fundraising event for the Alaska Bird Observatory and the Arctic Audubon Society where competing teams collected pledges on a "per species" basis, state that a team may choose any 24 hour period between May 13 and June 11 to give it a go. Well, that's all fine and dandy, but if you really want to go for the gold teams must also adhere to the Big Day rules set forth by the American Birding Association, which state that the 24 hour period must be contained within one calendar day. That means 12:00 am to 11:59 pm. This makes it doubly difficult, since most birdathoners like to start the clock at 7am, giving them two morning choruses to take advantage of. Big Day competitors only get one.

The record Big Day for Alaska is 125 species, according to the 2004 ABA Big Day Report. The Farthest North Birdathon record is 130, set just last year. I plan to shatter both of those records. The Golden Binoculars Award is so close I can taste it.

If you think you'd like to sponsor me and help out some really cool organizations, send me an email.

If you think this is the stupidest thing anyone could possibly spend their time doing, think again.

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