• Make Your Pledge Today!

    In mid-May, around the peak of spring migration, birdwatchers and naturalists across Vermont will set out with more determination (and coffee) than usual. It's Birdathon time! In a one-day blitz, these folks will raise funds to support VCE's wildlife and habitat conservation projects.

    We did it!

    Check out the report and species lists from the day.


    Although birding—and life in general—has changed for all of us in recent weeks, spring’s arrival and the return of migrants continue on pace. With recent passage of most waterfowl through Vermont, we birders now eagerly await the flood of songbirds that is just beginning to gather momentum. Spring migration is an exhilarating phenomenon, which now brings welcome comfort and rejuvenation to us all during these disconcerting times.

    The advent of spring also heralds VCE’s annual Birdathon, which is both a joyful event and our most important fundraiser of the year. This spring we’re adapting Birdathon to accommodate COVID-mandated travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines. VCE’s staff team (the Green Mountain Goatsuckers) and a legion of citizen birders—including you, we hope—will spend Saturday, May 23 birding (and naturalizing) on the Backyard Bird Quest 2020.

    Modeling our effort after traditional Big Sits (24 hours of birding within a 17-foot diameter circle) and “patch birding,” we are asking people to bird individually (or with their families) on May 23, either from a single spot or by thoroughly exploring a defined “patch” around their home.

    Not only is this the “right” thing to do—and a terrific way for us all to be carbon-free birders for a day—but we’re convinced that it will promote deeper connections to place, promote mindful and reflective outdoor activity, and galvanize our VCE birding family, even as we remain physically apart. We’ll include a “real-time” element into our Backyard Bird Quest 2020 through the Vermont eBird platform, such that everyone can watch the day’s discoveries online, sharing in each other’s discoveries as they unfold. At the end of the 24-hour period, we’ll compile a master list from everyone who submits individual checklists. Can we compile 100 species and 500 checklists? It may be a stretch, but we think that yes, indeed, we can!

    Black-throated Blue Warbler / © K.P. McFarland

    Blackburnian Warbler / © Bryan Pfeiffer

    Here’s how it works:

    First, decide where you’d like to spend your time birding. Second, count all the bird species you see or hear within a 24-hour period (or however long you like). Third, submit your lists as eBird checklists. That’s it! Find a spot, count birds, have fun. While birds are the focus of this fundraiser, you could sharpen your conservation multitasking skills by also logging your observations of other life forms through iNaturalist and eButterfly – but only bird species submitted to eBird will be counted for the final species tally. Check the Backyard Bird Quest 2020 stats page for hourly updates!

    Backyard Bird Quest 2020 is fun for the whole family! / © Susan Hindinger

    Hermit Thrush, the Vermont state bird, dodging spring snow. / © Sarah Carline

    Here’s how you can help even more:

    Sponsor VCE’s Green Mountain Goatsuckers staff team with a contribution.

    We hope we can count on you to join us, either as a fellow birder, by collecting pledges, by sponsoring the Green Mountain Goatsuckers, or all three. Our worlds may have shrunk geographically for now, but our birding horizons may actually expand as we each become more intimate with our “backyards.” Not only will the Backyard Bird Quest 2020 be fun and interactive, but you can be sure that the funds we raise will directly support VCE’s science-based bird and biodiversity conservation across the Americas. Your contribution will be a vital show of support for VCE—the need for our work is greater than ever.

    Thanks in advance for joining us, and bring on spring migration!