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Column: Birdathon fundraiser

The annual Prescott Audubon Society Birdathon will take place the first week of May. This event has been a Prescott tradition for more than 25 years! There are two components to the birdathon; competitive birding, and fundraising efforts to benefit the Prescott Audubon Society.

Each team of birders shares two goals in common — to see as many different bird species as they can in a 24-hour period, and to raise as much money as they can to benefit educational programs sponsored by the Prescott Audubon society.

As with any “thon” event, the idea is to have friends, family members, customers and other individuals in the community make a financial pledge to the team or teams of their choice.

The pledge can be either a flat dollar amount or it can be based on an amount for each bird species identified by the team. For example, you could pledge a quarter, or 50 cents, (or more) for every bird species a team sees. It is believed that the highest single-day count for this event in the Prescott area was 156 species!

One hundred percent of the money raised will go directly to the Prescott Audubon Society to fund a variety of worthwhile projects, including a $1,000 annual scholarship for a continuing college student who intends to pursue his or her passion for studies in areas of conservation and/or ecology.

The Prescott Audubon Society also uses funds from the birdathon to provide Audubon Adventure curriculum kits for local elementary school classrooms — last year 22 classrooms received this material. In addition these funds pay for awards for the Northern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair and helps the Prescott Junior Audubon Nature Clubs at Abia Judd Elementary School.

Each team must stay within Yavapai County and must complete their count in a 24-hour time period. Some team members are in the field from pre-dawn until after dark, and totals may reach around 130-to-140 species.

Jay’s Bird Barn has put together a formidable team this year and we have come up with a real original name; Team Jay’s Bird. As a team we will work hard to have the highest species count, but there will be stiff competition for bragging rights.

If you would like to make a contribution you can either mail it directly to the Prescott Audubon Society, attention treasurer, P. O. Box 4156, Prescott, AZ 86302, or you can drop it off at Jay’s Bird Barn on Willow Creek Road. If you mail in your contribution, and you want to support a specific team, make sure you designate the team you want to support.

There are five teams participating this year; The Monday Lady Birders, the Chick-a-DeeDees, the Sullivan team, a team of students from Abia Judd Elementary School, and Team Jay’s Bird Barn.

If you have any questions, you may contact Ryan Crouse, the Prescott Jay’s Bird Barn Store Manager. Our team would love to not only have the highest species count, but we’d also love to be the top fundraising team. We seek your support. A quick reminder; next week is the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood. For more information check out their website at birdyverde.org.

Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with three locations in northern Arizona — Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at eric@jaysbirdbarn.com.