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By Kris Dobney (Member Services Specialist), Birds Canada

Sylvia van Walsum, Halton Bluebird Club (ON)

May is traditionally Birdathon month, and Birds Canada and the Great Canadian Birdathon are very lucky to have such a great group of dedicated participants. Even in these most uncertain times, they are taking a stand and saying, “I’m still doing a Birdathon this year, because the birds still need my help!”

This year we’re inviting you to enjoy your Great Canadian Birdathon any time from now through December, anywhere, any way – as long as you’re safe. We thought we’d share some of the interesting ideas Great Canadian Birdathon participants have come up with so far to have a fun 2020 Birdathon while being mindful of the health and safety of themselves and those around them, and following their local public health recommendations.

Jared Maida and team Bishop’s Army in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia recently participated in their first-ever Great Canadian Birdathon. “The birdathon is always on the Victoria Day weekend, and is a competition of sorts (called Okanagan Big Day Challenge). Normally we are out of town. But this year, for obvious reasons, we don’t have any plans for the long weekend so figured why not have some fun this way!” They were careful to mind their physical distancing and because they avoided the confines of carpools, got some great exercise to boot: “17 hours, 33 km (all on foot), rain, sun, more rain and 80+ species identified. It was a grind but we had a blast.”

Amélie Roberto-Charron has been a passionate Birdathoner and team leader of “The Raven Lunatics” for several years. This year she had a new location for her Birdathon: Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories! She and several other birders in Yellowknife joined forces with other Raven Lunatics across Canada, birding from their respective locations on May 16. Beforehand, Amélie told us: “We’ll be keeping in touch through Slack throughout the day. We will be following the guidelines from health officials … and will be traveling independently from one another … This year will be a little different, we won’t be sharing snacks, going for a celebratory beer at the end of the day or taking a customary team photo (still brainstorming on how we’ll do it!), but we’re still going to make the best of it!”

George Pond birding

George Pond, a Norfolk County, Ontario native and one of Birdathon’s champions was not sure whether he’d be able to venture out this year, so he hatched a stay-at-home backup plan with creative twist. In addition to birding, George is also passionate about bird photography and travelling. Over the years, George has visited a great number of places and has amassed a rather large number of bird photos. His plan this year is to search through his hard drives for photos of birds that have been seen at one time or another in May on the Long Point, Ontario bird checklist. He is hoping that he has already “captured” and now will find about 150 species to create a list that will become his 2020 Birdathon list and, according to George, “my strangest Birdathon ever.”

How will you do your 2020 Birdathon? We’d love to hear your story! You can share by emailing me, Kris, at kdobney@birdscanada.org or by tagging Birds Canada on social media (@birdscanada on Twitter and Facebook and @birds.canada on Instagram) with the hashtag #GreatCanadianBirdathon.