NJ Audubon’s World Series of Birding
DVOC teams have won the Urner Stone Cup (highest species total) 11 times!
1985, 1999, 2000(tie), 2001(tie), 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010 (tie), 2011
Competitors jostle for position at the starting point, equipment is adjusted and watches are checked. At the stroke of midnight, the race begins. It’s not a late-night track meet, but the World Series of Birding, where teams compete fiercely, but wildlife is the biggest winner.
It all began decades ago in May 1984, when a few teams set out on a 24-hour treasure hunt. Their objective was to tally as many birds as possible in NJ, raise money for their favorite environmental cause, and increase awareness of the habitat needs of migrating birds. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, as their love of birding spawned the World Series of Birding, now attracting over a thousand participants annually, and focusing national media attention on the need to protect birds and their habitats. In the past 20 years, the WSB has raised over $8 million for conservation.
Sponsored by NJ Audubon, the competition takes place on many levels. Teams can choose to bird the entire state or just one county; teams can compete against their age peers; or teams can raise pledges without lifting binoculars. The goal remains the same for everyone: to identify the most bird species in New Jersey in a 24-hour period, and raise money for conservation in the process.
As a club full of dedicated, enthusiastic and yes, competitive birders, it comes naturally for DVOC to participate in the WSB – sometimes with two teams. Each year the DVOC team works hard to maximize the number of species identified on the Big Day. Scouting, planning (and the right snacks) make a big difference in the final totals, but luck plays a part too. You never know exactly what you’ll find on the Big Day, but it helps to know what could or should be there. Teams can begin or end their day anywhere in the state, but many begin at the Great Swamp NWR in northern NJ, finding owls, rails, bitterns and dawn warblers, before heading south for shorebirds, raptors, gulls, terns and anything else that might be had. Cape May is the ultimate destination, where teams gather after the 24-hour birding marathon to share stories, jokes and mishaps (think broken-down vehicles, fingers smashed in van doors, and grabbing your spouse’s too-small waders instead of your own).
DVOC is proud to have garnered first, second or third prize in the World Series of Birding every year since 1998. We share our scouting notes and birding tips with other teams, with the ultimate goal of maximizing fundraising for conservations.
Check the photos, reports and lists below, to see how the DVOC teams have fared in past years. And pledge generously, as DVOC donates the proceeds from our WSB fundraising to a local conservation project each year. (Debbie Beer 2009, revised by webmaster 2012)