Posted by: Drew | April 21, 2009

Birds and Bird Watchers Take to the Field – May 9, 2009 – World Series of Birding

(Cape May, NJ) In baseball the season is just starting and the pennant race is wide open. But in the world of competitive birding, it’s already come down to the biggest game of the series.

On May 9, 2009, millions of birds and hundreds of bird watchers will take the field to see who can spot the most species of birds between midnight and midnight.

The playing field is the entire state of New Jersey – one of the most bird rich places in North America. For twenty-six years, teams of birders from across North America and abroad have come here to test their skills.

“New Jersey is to birding what Augusta National is to golf,” says Pete Dunne, the founder of the event. One of the reasons the event was founded was to draw attention to New Jersey’s strategic, and overlooked, importance to birds.

“We’ve got a wealth of natural areas. We’re positioned right on the migratory mainline. In one compact and highly birdable state, teams can go from Canadian zone forest to Carolina coastal habitat and not even stop for gas.

Winning totals for the event often top 230 species.

“Only in Texas have more birds been seen by single team in one day,” says Dunne. The total number of species recorded by all contestants commonly exceeds 270. According to Dunne “more than one third of all the bird species found in North America.”

The other reason over 100 teams will be competing in this years event is for a share of the prize money. NO! There is no cash purse. Instead team supporters pledge money on the number of species found by their favorite team. The money is used to support the bird conservation efforts of each team’s sponsoring organizations.

National organizations like the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and The Nature Conservancy. Regional organizations like the Delaware Valley Ornithological Club and Connecticut Audubon. Many teams also enjoy the sponsorship or co-sponsorship of major corporations connected to the birding market or who espouse a conservation ethic. Companies like Estee Lauder, Nikon, Zeiss, Swarovski, PECO, and US Silica.

Some teams raise over a hundred thousand dollars in their twenty-four hour effort. Since its inception twenty-five years ago nearly $9,000,000 has been raised. “There are a lot of Golden-winged Warblers looking for nesting habitat and Red Knot searching for horseshoe crab eggs that owe a measure of thanks to this event,” says Dunne.

The event has grown since thirteen teams first took up New Jersey Audubon’s challenge in 1984. Now there are multiple divisions, including a popular youth division, a senior division, and several different categories.

Teams can plan routes that cover the entire state; individual counties; even remain in a single, 17 foot circle and record birds without leaving that spot.

In 2007, a World Series team set a national record by recording 139 species from one fixed location.

This year a new “Carbon Footprint Cup” category has being inaugurated. All birding must be done using human powered means of transportation. Contestants can walk, run, bike, row… Anything that doesn’t require energy tied to fossil fuel.

The event is hosted by the New Jersey Audubon Society. Established in 1897, NJAS is one of the nation’s oldest and largest conservation organizations; independent of, and older than National Audubon.

Broadcasters and newscasters are invited to contact Sheila Lego at 609.884.2736 to arrange interviews with participants or with assistance covering the event.

The Awards Brunch will be held at the Grand Hotel in Cape May on Sunday, May 10. Totals and winners will be available on-line in the wee hours of Sunday morning. For more information visit the official website, http://www.worldseriesofbirding.org

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