Posted by: Drew | April 25, 2008

May 10 2008 World Series of Birding New Jersey Shore Event

North America’s Natural History Treasure Hunt Turns Twenty-Five

World Series of Birding – May 10, 2008

On May 10, the Jays, Cardinals, Orioles and 270 other bird species will take the field (and woodlands, and marshes, and beaches) of New Jersey. Over 100 teams (of avid bird watchers) will go to bat for bird conservation. There are teams birding Cape May County only on bikes and on foot, a team birding only in sand mine properties, teams counting only the birds they photograph, and a team coming from Catalonia, Spain just to bird New Jersey!

It’s time for the annual World Series of Birding, North America’s largest and oldest bird watching competition. Celebrating its 25th year, the event has underscored New Jersey’s importance to migrating birds and raised millions of dollars for bird conservation.

“New Jersey was considered a second string birding state before the World Series,” says Pete Dunne, founder and 25-year veteran of the contest. Now birders consider participating in the World Series of Birding the equivalent of playing golf at St. Andrews. It’s not wholly a matter of history and tradition, New Jersey is one tough course.

“The key to winning the event is to link as many habitats as possible,” says veteran Dunne, whose team has won the event four times. One of the principle reasons New Jersey has such enviable bird diversity is the diversity of habitat housed in the state.

Most top teams start in the forested northwest and finish in coastal Cape May. It sounds straight-forward enough but routes are down to the minute perfect. Some teams may navigate 600 miles in their 24 hour search; switching drivers to combat fatigue and changing routes if need or opportunity dictate.

“It’s not like normal bird watching”, Dunne explains. “There’s no time to stop and watch the birdie. You go to a spot that you’ve scouted in advance with a shopping list of must-get species. Bag your birds as quick as you can then scoot. There are only 24-hours; when the clock strikes midnight all birding stops.”

Teams searching the entire state commonly record over 200 species. Winning teams may tally over 230 species and the combined total for all teams may exceed 270 species of birds.

All in New Jersey! All in just 24 hours!

“That is getting close to half the bird species that breed in North America,” says Dunne. “In only two states, Texas and California, have more species of birds been recorded by a single team in a single day.”

But not all teams canvas the entire state. A large and growing number of teams limit their search to a single New Jersey County, an ALGA (Limited Geographic Area) and compete against an established par. Densely populated Hudson County’s par is 150 birds. More environmentally diverse counties like Cape May have par values that approach or exceed 200 species. The winning team is the one that gets the highest percentage of par.

In another category, teams don’t travel at all opting instead to do all their birding from within a 17 foot circle. Last year, a team competing in the “Big Stay” category tallied 139 species at a strategic circle located in Cape May. Their winning total shattered the prior National Record.

So the World Series of Birding is just for experts? “Absolutely not!” says Sheila Lego, the event organizer. Like birding itself, anyone can play and at any level. If you can identify ten species of birds, you can do the World Series. You don’t need to compete; just register then have a great time. Celebrate New Jersey’s natural heritage and raise money for New Jersey Audubon Society. Ten species! Duck, goose, crow, sparrow, robin, pigeon, woodpecker, blackbird, another kind of duck, heron. Muster $10 in pledges from friends and neighbors, and you’ve raised $100 to support the conservation efforts of New Jersey largest and oldest conservation organization.

To really boost the greening power of their pledge, people can also join one of New Jersey Audubon’s World Series Century Runs – official teams led by skilled birders. Each person pledges $1 a bird for the total species seen by the team. “The objective of a Century Run is to find 100 species of birds,” Ms. Lego explains. Most American’s haven’t seen 100 species of birds in their lives. Here in New Jersey, even beginning birders can find 100 species of birds in a day on one of our Century Runs.

But the fastest growing category by far is the Youth Division sponsored by Carl Zeiss Optics. Last year more than 140 birders ages 4-18 competed in three divisions for elementary, middle, and high school. In 1984, the year the World Series started; there was only one birder too young to vote.

The event not only enjoys extensive publicity, it garners broad-based corporate support. All of the top optic’s manufacturers field teams as well as conservation organizations like American Bird Conservancy, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Conserve Wildlife Foundation, and corporations who take their responsibility to the planet seriously including Exelon, ShopRite Supermarkets, PECO, and U. S. Silica.

The event started with 13 teams in 1984. The late Roger Tory Peterson was on the team that won the event with a total of 201 species. The event has grown. Winning totals have risen. Some years it rains, some years it’s sunny. One thing remains the same.

It only happens in New Jersey. The event that puts the spotlight on New Jersey’s birdlife; a real feather in our state’s cap.

For more information on the event, forms, rules and registration, go to their website www.WorldSeriesofBirding.org. Any questions about the event, contact Sheila Lego or Marleen Murgitroyde at 609.884.2736 or birdcapemay@njaudubon.org.

To become a member of New Jersey Audubon, visit www.njaudubon.org.

Also Check Out:

American Bird Conservancies Coverage


Cornell’s Coverage w/ Team Sapsucker & The RedHeads

Conserve Wildlife Foundation is sponsoring The Wrending Talons

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