VCE's Birdathon team, the Green Mountain Goatsuckers, plied their own "necks of the woods" for Backyard Bird Quest 2021. We collectively found 119 species during the day, raising crucial funds for VCE's wildlife conservation work.
May 22nd turned out to be a glorious day. With plenty of sunshine and a breath of wind to keep black flies at bay, birders across the state combed woods, fields, and waterways to identify as many birds as could be found over a 24-hour period for VCE’s Backyard Bird Quest 2021.
This year, like last, required a different approach to Birdathon (our most important annual fundraiser), in line with our ongoing COVID-mandated office closure and working-from-home paradigm. Following the success of last spring’s Backyard Bird Quest model, we decided to take this approach again, but this time VCE’s Green Mountain Goatsuckers team could safely relax the “rules” a bit to include socially-distanced small birding groups.
And, to make things more interesting, we issued an audacious challenge: could our collective efforts garner 200 species and 1,000 checklists from 325 birders statewide, eclipsing last year’s single-day record of 178 species and 724 Vermont eBird checklists submitted by 305 birders? Well, not quite, but the response was truly impressive, as 276 birders submitted a single-day record 1,050 eBird checklists and tallied 179 species across the state—an extraordinary result!
For the Goatsuckers, no fewer than 13 of us (nine in VT, one in NH, two in MA, one in GA) plied their respective “necks of the woods” on May 22. A couple of us logged 12 or more miles on foot, while others stayed close to home (modeling their efforts after traditional “Big Sits”); Jason Hill even launched his kayak on the Connecticut River below Wilder Dam. Nathaniel birded salt marshes and coastal forests on Cape Cod, and Mike the fields and forests near Amherst, MA; Laura enjoyed her first Birdathon from Lebanon, NH, while Sarah Carline prowled the woods and waterways of her new home state, Georgia. Within Vermont, Susan birded both solo and with a local bird club from Weathersfield, as did Kent from Woodstock; Karen birded from West Fairlee, Eric from the Northeast Kingdom, Steve from Strafford, Spencer from Montpelier, and Kevin from Norwich. Chris and his son Ben birded Norwich and had a memorable father-son experience, staying entirely carbon-free on foot and bikes, tallying 93 species. It doesn’t get better than that for a Dad!
At day’s end, our collective efforts more than paid off. From the first dawn thrush songs at 4 am to the final woodcock ‘peent’ at 9 pm, the Goatsuckers worked hard and came up with 119 species (check out the complete species list by clicking the link below). While we couldn’t bird en masse as in years past, Backyard Bird Quest 2021 brought the Green Mountain Goatsuckers together in new ways, as we shared one another’s discoveries, sought bird identification advice and “second opinions,” and worked diligently to compile a diverse master species list. Thanks to all who participated, sponsored us, and wished us well. We’re already looking forward to next spring’s Birdathon challenge, and hope you are, too!
Species Tallies from Statewide eBirders (with VCE staff team species IDs marked in bold) on May 22, 2021
Vermont Backyard Bird Quest 2021 Statewide List (179 species from 1,050 eBird checklists submitted by 276 birders!)