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What is March Migration Madness?

2016 March Migration Madness Bracket
The 2016 March Migration Madness tournament bracket as featured on the Cornell Lab's Facebook page. Click here for a bigger image, or download a bracket to print.

College basketball fans look forward to March Madness every year; when NCAA teams are matched against each other, and each winning team advances to the next round until a winner is crowned. Lose a game, and you’re out.

But to birders, March isn’t necessarily about basketball, but about the return of many birds from their winter ranges. To celebrate this annual March migration, the Cornell Lab put together our own version of a March tournament on our Facebook page: March Migration Madness. Instead of a “Sweet 16” of basketball teams, we have a “Tweet 16” of bird species: 16 birds that have been selected to go head-to-head, with players voting for their favorite bird of the matched pair. Every weekday there is a new pair-up. Facebook users vote on their favorite bird, and the winning bird advances to the next round: the “Airborne 8.” These eight winners eventually become the “Feathered 4,” and then the “Chirpionship” selects the winner. You must be on Facebook to participate.

This year, the Tweet 16 are all from the Lab’s upcoming coloring book, “America’s Favorite Birds” (to be published in fall 2016). The bracket, pictured at right, shows you which species will be competing. We’ve matched up Reigning Champions from previous March Migration Madness tournaments, to compete against favorite “Underbirds.” Every weekday from March 8 through March 28 a new pair will be competing.

You can download the bracket to print out and write in your predictions, or the winners of each round. At the end of the tournament the Cornell Lab will release a free coloring page download of the winning bird. When you download either the bracket or the coloring page, you will be entered in a prize drawing to win a pair of binoculars and other prizes from this year’s sponsor, Maven Custom Optics.

To participate, make sure you “Like” the Cornell Lab’s Facebook page.

How do you play?

Taking part in march Migration Madness is easy. Here are the steps to participate:

  1. You must be on Facebook, and “Like” the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Facebook page.
  2. Visit the Cornell Lab’s Facebook page every weekday. There will be a photo album post with pictures of two birds put up every morning.
  3. Look at both photos and vote which one is your favorite by clicking “Like” on the bird photo of your choice.
  4. You can only Like a photo once.
  5. If you change your mind, you can click “Unlike” and start over.
  6. You can leave comments, but only Likes will count as votes.
  7. If you can’t see a Like button on the photo, you may need to Like our page first.

Maven Custom Optics: our 2016 Sponsor

Maven Custom Optics allows you to chose from several color options to build you own pair of binoculars.

This year Maven Custom Optics is sponsoring March Migration Madness, and is offering a pair of binoculars and other prizes to participants. All you need to do is download the March Migration Madness bracket, or the coloring book page of the winner (available once the winner is announced at the end of March), and you will be entered to win these prizes.

Based in the small town of Lander, Wyoming, Maven makes customizable optics for the modern outdoors person. In 2014, Maven launched with custom binoculars and will soon follow that up with spotting scopes designed to perfectly fit a user’s unique needs. Maven’s direct-to-consumer business model ensures best-in-class pricing. Find out more information about Maven, and check out how you can customize your own pair of Maven binoculars.

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American Kestrel by Blair Dudeck / Macaulay Library