On Saturday May 13, from midnight to midnight, about 80 teams of birdwatchers will devote the better part of the day to identifying species of birds throughout New Jersey. While looking at birds, they’ll also be raising money for bird conservation.
Its humble beginning so many years ago was driven by a simple quest; to identify over 200 species of birds in 24 hours in the state of New Jersey at the peak of spring migration. No one had done it before and those interested thought adding the element of competition would get folks to take it more seriously—and they were right. In 1984, 13 teams carefully planned their routes, mostly starting at midnight in northern New Jersey, listening for owls and night calling birds at Great Swamp, for example, then making their way all the way to south and ending up at the Lighthouse in Cape May, with a lot of stops along the way.
Over the years, with the right weather conditions, competitive teams have tallied over 230 species by covering the whole state. Other birders wanted to participate but were not keen on the full 24 hours and driving the length of the state. Now, there are numerous categories, or “Ways to Play,” from staying in one carefully chosen place, to staying within the boundaries of one county, to riding bikes or paddling.
There is also a Youth Division, sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sport Optics, which includes a Carbon Free Kids competition, for kids on foot and other non-motorized forms of transportation.
You can join the fun by visiting worldseriesofbirding.org and perusing the teams. Pick a favorite team and make a pledge or donation. Here in Cumberland County, Mary Watkins will again serve as Captain of the CU Maurice River FISH HAWKS, consisting of Mary, Tony Klock, Kathy Michel, and returning member Laurie Pettigrew. The money raised by the CU team supports its avian surveys, nesting projects, and nature awareness programs. Visit cumauriceriver.org/event-payments/ for more information about how to support the home team.
On May 13, you can watch as the teams report their totals by visiting worldseriesofbirding.org and clicking on the “Results” button in the upper right corner. There, you can watch as the list of “Completed Teams” grow as they submit their counts for the day starting around 6 p.m., all the way to the last few moments before midnight.
A festive Awards Brunch follows on Sunday, April 14, at the Grand Hotel of Cape May. Remarks begin at 10 a.m. sharp. Tickets to the brunch are available on the World Series Website under “Participate.”
New Jersey Audubon thanks its major corporate sponsor, Carl Zeiss for sponsoring the Youth Division, and the many organizations that sponsored individual teams, including Zeiss, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ernst Seeds, DSM, Hudson Farms, PSEG, Atlantic City Electric, the Montclair Bird Club, and Rey Financial Group. Well over $1 million conservation dollars have been raised in the 40 years of the event.
The 2022 World Series of Birding was featured on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO, which first aired in June 2022.