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Get Ready for the World Series of Birding


We’re now just under two weeks away from this year’s World Series of Birding—to be held May 15, 2010 in Cape May, New Jersey. It’s a 24-hour birdathon involving some 70 teams in a race to see the most species of birds. Once again, the Lab is entering two teams* both sponsored by Swarovski Optik: the Sapsuckers, made up of Lab staff, and the Redheads, a team of students and former students.

The Sapsuckers are Andrew Farnsworth, Brian Sullivan, Chris Wood, Jessie Barry, Marshall Iliff, and Tim Lenz (that’s them on the top of the image above). The Sapsuckers fought back after a 2 a.m. flat tire on event day last year and claimed third place with 221 species, their last tick coming at 11:30 p.m—an insomniac Yellow-breasted Chat. (Follow their adventures as they unfold, on Twitter.)

The Redheads are Brad Walker, Carolyn Sedgwick, Jay McGowan, Shawn Billerman, and Tom Johnson (they’re along the bottom of the image). Last year, they won the Cape May County division of the World Series with a total of 187 species, including getting this nice photo of a rare visiting Swallow-tailed Kite. (Follow them on Twitter for more photos and updates.)

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The competition is fierce but it’s all for a good cause: competing teams raise money for the event, and all the proceeds go toward conservation. Because of Swarovski Optik‘s generous sponsorship, every penny pledged to either of our teams goes to conservation ends, such as supporting eBird or helping former Redheads explore remote jungles. Last year, pledges totalled $200,000—a record-breaking year that put the Cornell Lab’s total at more than $2.5 million raised over the history of the World Series. Please consider donating just a nickel, a quarter, or more per species seen on the Big Day—for a modest total donation of about $11 to $55 or more. Go here for a run-down on good reasons to donate, or jump straight to making  a pledge here.

You can read a bit more about each of the Sapsuckers and the Redheads. Or watch this short video introduction:

Thanks for your support of the Sapsuckers, the Cornell Lab, and conservation!

*Actually there’s a third team coming down from Ithaca. They’re competing in the Carbon Cup category, which means they’ll be riding bikes instead of driving. They’re called the Anti-Petrels and—now the cat is out of the bag—yours truly is on the team. We’re not an official Lab entry because this is our first year and we’re just figuring out our route. But we’ll be down there and I’ll do my best to describe the insanity of the World Series in a post or two. Look out, Cape May!

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library