The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Team Sapsucker is heading to Texas during the third week of April in an attempt to break their own United States record for the most bird species identified by sight or sound during 24 hours. These six top-notch birders are driven not just to break records, but to raise a quarter of a million dollars for bird conservation work through supporters’ donations or pledges for every species tallied. The Sapsuckers hold the current U.S. record of 264 species, which they set two years ago and matched again last year.
Team Member Andrew Farnsworth says:
“Texas screams possibilities with its diversity of landscapes and migration pathways. Of course, birds have wings, and use them, so connecting the dots to find them all is a serious challenge of logistics, identification skills, and stamina.”
“The study of migration is a passion for me, and nowhere do I experience the magnitude of birds’ movements as I do during a Big Day in Texas. It may be a stream of sky-high Franklin’s Gulls and raptors, thousands of recently arrived shorebirds in a flooding rice field, or a fallout of tired songbirds in a patch of coastal vegetation.”
“Technology is our friend in this quest,” Farnsworth says. “We can watch, in real time with a radar app on an iPhone, as millions of migrants come across the Gulf and we try to figure out how and where might be the best place to find them later that day!”
“We have some new twists to our route this year that give us a shot, we hope, at setting a new record. We have some old friends and new friends who are helping us key in on when the Tropical Kingbird wakes, which rice field has water (and birds!), how to get through Houston without pulling our hair out, and how to change a flat tire . . . fast!”
To learn more about the Sapsuckers’ Big Day in Texas or make to make a pledge for each species they find, visit www.birds.cornell.edu/BigDay