Tucson Audubon Society

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A Big Day competition like no other

12:00AM to 11:59PM on Wednesday, August 13, 2014  (Results announced on Thursday, August 14)
Participating teams compete to observe the most bird species in 24 hours, while raising important funds for conservation.

MOQU_robertshantzThe challenges involved in this particular competition are intriguing. Many species wait exclusively for this time of year before singing, nesting, and generally becoming more observable. Still, others are not singing and must be detected visually or by use of call notes. At the same time, southbound migrants are arriving. This is when hummingbird numbers and species diversity peaks – as many as 15 species are possible! Migrant warblers, buntings, and other passerines are beginning to arrive as well. Thus, not every species can be “staked out,” and must be encountered by a combination of skill and luck on competition day. More than 200 species are possible, and the Arizona Big Day record stands at 199. How many birds can you find in a day? More info on monsoon birding


Rules & Forms

All teams must register. Competing teams must pay the appropriate registration fee and may raise funds on behalf of the bird conservation cause of their choice! There is no fee for Non-competing teams to participate; any fundraising by Non-competing teams must benefit Tucson Audubon.

Sky Islands Birding Cup Official Rules
Sky Islands Birding Cup Official Checklist
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it The "Registration Form"
Online Donation Form Coming Soon!:  Teams fundraising on behalf of TAS, share this link with your sponsors
Offline Donation Form: For those wishing to make a donation to Tucson Audubon by mail
Pledge Tracking Form: For participants to record donations for later acknowledgement by TAS.

The fund: Birders Giving Back

Registration fees from participating teams and sponsors cover the administrative costs of running the event, with additional pledges raised going toward the Arizona Important Bird Areas program.

The Arizona Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program at Tucson Audubon is an exciting, active, field-oriented, community-engaged, science-based and conservation-focused program to benefit Arizona’s bird populations of greatest conservation concern, and other native biodiversity, and their most critical habitats and sites! (Find out all about this program and how you can become involved at aziba.org)

The Arizona IBA Program works to identify, document, and recognize the most important places for birds – but designation is just the beginning!  We use scientific data to assess habitat condition, assist site management, and to advance the conservation and protection of these areas. We have to address community-identified threats.

One such threat that we can address is the presence of unrestrained cattle at the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area & Patagonia Lake IBA, located between the communities of Patagonia and Nogales in southeast Arizona.

Birders: this Important Bird Area, and very popular, internationally-recognized birding destination, needs your help! Over the years, we have become increasingly distressed at the degraded state of the marshlands, stream riparian, Mesquite-Hackberry Bosque, and desertshrub lands so popular with birders at this IBA site. For many years, livestock have trespassed on the park lands and have unrestricted access to adjacent state lands that the park leases for habitat preservation and recreational uses. You may have noticed the detrimental effects of grazing (and probably a few cows, too) if you have visited the site in search of Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Elegant Trogon, Neotropic Cormorant, or winter rarities.

The solution is fairly simple: an estimated $50k is needed to build new fence and repair existing fence to effectively control livestock use and permanently restore and protect this important birding area.

Enter the Sky Islands Birding Cup, a bold Big Day event! Besides the thrill of more than 200 species possible in a single day (including some jawdroppers found nowhere else) this brand new event is also an opportunity to give back locally to those same birds through stewardship of important bird habitat.

Nothing illustrates the links between birding, education, and conservation better than this project. Healthy habitats provide places for more bird to rest, nest, and feed, and more birds for us to see. These lands need our help if they are to realize their full potential for birds and other wildlife. Whether you are exploring this special place on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, an annual pilgrimage, or every weekend, you are a part of a community of many birders who cherish Southeastern Arizona. Let’s step up!


The competition: categories and pledges

See the Rules for complete details on how the game is played! We'll announce the results at the Nightlife Social on Thursday, August 14.

A full description of each category included in the Rules. In order to remain eligible for competition, all participants must count only species seen from within southeast Arizona (defined by Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Graham Counties). Competing Teams may fundraise for the bird conservation organization of their choice!  Funds raised by non-competing teams must benefit Tucson Audubon Society. 

Traditional Big Day
This is an all-out effort to see as many species as possible in 24 hours, within the confines of the Rules, of course (minimum team of 3 people). You have from 12:00AM to 11:59PM on August 14th, 2013 to find as many birds as you can. Heard birds, seen birds, common or rare, every “wild and unrestrained” bird counts! Intensive planning and scouting will be the key to a high species total. Which teams will take a crack at 200+ species…?

Youth Big Day
Same as the “Traditional Big Day,” but you must be 17 years of age or younger to qualify for this category! (An adult should accompany as the team driver.)

Senior Big Day
Same as the “Traditional Big Day,” but you must be at least 62 years of age to qualify for this category.

Little Circle, Big Day
Plunk yourself down and let the birds come to you! The concept is basically the same as a Big Sit: select a 17-foot diameter circle anywhere in southeast Arizona, and sit/stand/stay there as long as you want during the Big Day. Only birds detected while you are in the circle may be tallied, though someone may be sent outside of the circle to confirm an ID. Chairs, ladders and BBQs are all allowed!

“Little Circle Circuit” Big Day
The same as the “Little Circle, Big Day” above – but you can select up to 4 different circles to sit in during the day! The catch is that you cannot return to any previously visited circle… Get creative and drive less than a Traditional Big Day for a carbon conscious alternative.

Non-competing team or individual
Don’t care about winning an award? Just want to see a lot of birds and raise some bucks for Tucson Audubon Society? Great! This is the category for you. No team minimum. Collect some pledges, go out and see some birds; simple as that. Nightlife Social ticket and TBWF t-shirt available for a nominal fee.



Traditional Big Day Teams
BIRDING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: J. Yerger, K. Kamper, and J. Mohlmann. 185 species       
HERONDIPITY: J. MacFarland, M. Brooks, R. Fray,  T. Helentjaris, S.Pike, R. Zarwell.  154 species      
NO EGRETS: T. Supplee, M. Weber, A. Tarbee. 136 species       Read their Big Day recap


Traditional Big Day Teams
BIRDING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: J. Yerger, K. Kamper, and J. Mohlmann. 174 species         Read their Big Day recap
VIREOSOS: J. MacFarland, M. Brooks, T. Helentjaris, S.Pike, R. Zarwell. 162 species         Read their Big Day recap



Traditional Big Day Teams
BIRDING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: J. Yerger, K. Kamper, and J. Mohlmann. 162 species
CAN'T STOP THE ROCK WRENS: J. MacFarland, V. Bothwell, R. Fray, K. Kroesen, and B. Nicholas. 137 species 

Non-competing teams UNDOCUMENTED AVIANS: M. Scram and J. Lewis.



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