Ah, spring, when young persons’ fancies turn to thoughts of bird migration and YES! The Birdathon! It’s a high point of the year for our team, the Great Greys. It started out to be an excuse to spend some quality time with pals, looking for birds. But we were subjected to some serious ridicule a few years back, and we still haven’t gotten over it. That was the year we actually won the competition, surprising us as much as the previous year’s winners, the Mighty Falcons. So the leader of the Falcons, who shall remain nameless(1), had the nerve to publish an article in High Country news about our surprising victory, calling us the “Bad News Bears of Birding(2).”
Well. Now we started to care. So the next year we won again. But the year after that, the Falcons cleaned our clock, setting the county record that still stands (162 species). The year after that, we won again. One year we tied another team, the Binosaurs, for first place. Last year we came in second. This year we won again, with 154 species(3). Not that we’re counting. It’s all in good fun…
But hey, the purpose of the Birdathon is to raise money, by getting friends and relatives to pledge some amount per species identified. Every year I send out a fund-raising, trash-talking letter, offering the opportunity to pledge at different levels, from Golden Eagle ($1,000 per species identified)(4) down to brown-headed cowbird ($0.10/species).
We raised over $3,400 this year, which is pretty darn thrilling. We split the money between Rogue Valley Audubon and KBO, even though John Alexander, KBO’s Executive Director, is actually a Falcon, and thus one of our fierce rivals. However, we know the main reason the Great Greys started winning is because Frank Lospalluto joined our team that year. You may know Frank as a field biologist who has worked for KBO over ten years. Like the rest of the KBO folks, he is really passionate, and amazingly knowledgeable, about birds. So we owe a substantial part of our success to KBO. Hence, the donation.
And in case you were wondering? Everyone is welcome to join our support network(5). Just let me know and I’ll add your name to the annual trash-talking solicitation.
Klamath Bird Observatory
PO Box 758
Ashland, Oregon 97520