Georgia's Youth Birding Competition

    Georgia’s Youth Birding Competition turns 8 this year, and coordinator Tim Keyes is seeing plenty of evidence the event is making an impact for conservation.

    Keyes mentions early participants now studying biology in college and former birding novices who as veterans are mentoring children in bird watching. “It’s been incredibly rewarding to watch that,” he said.

    The rewards for competitors and organizers continue April 13-14, when the 24-hour statewide birdathon for teams varying in ages from kindergarteners to high school seniors returns. The deadline to register is March 31. Complete details are at

    The competition and an accompanying T-shirt Art Contest are sponsored by DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (TERN) and other partners. A banquet and awards ceremony will be held April 14 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield.

    Teams register by one of four age divisions and compete against other groups their age. Participants can also volunteer to raise money for conservation organizations.

    The Youth Birding Competition is free, fun and geared to youth of all skill levels. Those new to birding can take advantage of mentoring opportunities offered through the competition.

    Contestants spotted 209 bird species and raised $1,178 for conservation last year.

    The 2013 competition starts at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 13, and ends at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 14. Groups may use as much or as little of that time to count as many birds as possible throughout Georgia.

    Although teams can start birding anywhere in the state, they must turn in their checklists at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center by 5 p.m. Sunday. While judges examine and score checklists, participants are treated to a live animal show followed by an awards banquet packed with prizes.

    The Youth Birding Competition also includes a T-shirt Art Contest – enter by March 4. Participation in the birding competition is encouraged but not required to enter the T-shirt Art Contest.

    There is no charge for either contest, aside from the optional cost of overnight lodging at Charlie Elliott.

    Event sponsors include Atlanta Audubon Society and the Georgia Ornithological Society.

    New this year: Teams can share photos and updates on what birds they’re seeing or hearing on the Wildlife Resources Division’s Twitter account. Simply tweet @GeorgiaWild with the hashtag #YBC2013!

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