It’s for the birds. It’s easy to forget that as you plan for the World Series of Birding. It’s easy to think that it’s about the competition, or the food, or the bug bites, or the stories you’re going to tell over drinks at the C-View later. It’s for the birds, and the World Series of Birding has raised over nine million dollars for bird conservation.
New Jersey Audubon’s 29th annual World Series of Birding will be held Saturday, May 12. More than 100 teams of birders will compete throughout New Jersey to identify the most birds in 24 hours, and many of them will be right here in Cape May. They’ll be out all day and night, identifying birds by sight or sound, and racing to have their checklists to the finish line by midnight.
Watching birds is educational. Watching birders is equally educational. For example, birders have excellent bladders, and rarely stop for rest room breaks, even though they all carry flasks of “tea.” They use all of the pockets in those funny vests, and at least one of those pockets contains a book by Pete Dunne. They don’t whine about cuts on their legs from walking through brush. Birders are really good at whispering, but they get very loud if you shine your headlights on them. They get a fair amount of exercise, and they pack their coolers with great food. During the World Series, they are more generous with that food than they are with information.
There are lots of teenage birders, and they get very competitive. Teenagers want to raise more money and spot more birds than anyone else. They leave their phones in the car while they hunt, and when they return, they use the phones to play bird calls. Teenage birders are very good at ignoring their drivers, which is good, because drivers who are not official team members are forbidden to provide guidance or share tidbits heard from other birders. Drivers are also forbidden, apparently, from making jokes about early birds catching worms, or birds of a feather flocking together. Drivers who plan to root for the team from Cornell — there’s always a team from Cornell, so “Go, Big Red!” — are urged by their teenagers to inflict their jokes on the team from Cornell. Birders get a little cranky in the middle of the night.
The World Series of Birding brings birders from around the world to Cape May. The event also brings worldwide media attention to the need for conservation. You can learn more about birding, or sponsor a team, at njaudubon.org.
After all, it’s for the birds.