Feel like going “birding”? If you’re itching to spy a few of the feathered, winged vertebrates with fellow enthusiasts, the upcoming Birdathon is for you. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Santa Barbara Audubon Society will host its first-ever Birdathon, a multi-day bird-sighting fundraiser complete with expert-led field trips and plenty of birding from April 20–28.
By focusing on birds and other wildlife, representatives say, the Santa Barbara Audubon Society — a local chapter of the National Audubon Society that received its official charter in June 1963 — helps conserve and restore the natural ecosystems and habitats in which the animals live. Within the Santa Barbara area, Audubon experts and avian aficionados alike work to protect and restore habitats and resources to maintain the earth’s biological diversity, all while incorporating the efforts of community members and educating them on the importance of wildlife preservation.
The Birdathon will raise funds to support the Audubon Society’s conservation and education programs. At any time during the nine days, participants can bird — that is, count bird species — by themselves or with a team to raise money. Area count locations widely vary, from backyards and street sides to parks, open spaces, and beaches. Regardless of which birding hot spot you end up in, you are likely to observe a number of species here in Santa Barbara, one of the birding capitals of the country. Birders are encouraged to register for a minimum suggested donation of $25, ask friends and family to sponsor their sightings, and pledge other birders. Pledges can be collected either in person or online, by cash as well as by check. Additionally, birdwatchers can pay to join any of the six field trips conducted by expert birders between April 26–28. These field trips provide fledgling ornithologists the opportunity to bird with small, 10-person groups at special locations.
Bird sightings frequently reach their peak around mid- to late-April; an experienced (and vigilant) birder is likely to sight around 100 species during this period. Since birds are in the midst of their migrating season, however, predicting which species a birder might spot in the next several days is almost impossible. Even those spotted last week — Cassin’s kingbird, Bonaparte’s gull, Wilson’s warbler, yellow warbler, hooded and Bullock’s orioles, phainopepla, and olive-sided flycatcher, to name a few — may not return for encore appearances. “Right now, it’s bird migration, so it’s hard to say what exactly we’ll see next week,” said Dolores Pollock, a board member of the S.B. Audubon Society.
On Sunday, April 21, from 8–11 a.m., Audubon volunteers will host a “Big Sit” at Goleta Beach, an open event in which participants sit in a single spot and wait for the birds to arrive. Telescopes will be provided, and participants are encouraged to bring binoculars. At the end of the Birdathon, a Wrap-Up Picnic will be help from 1–3 p.m. at Stow Grove Park, where birders will be able to swap stories about the species they found.
Learn more about the Birdathon at santabarbaraaudubon.org. Beginners and advanced birders are welcome.