Eagle eyes wanted for annual birdwatching contest | Local News … – The Daily News of Newburyport

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Updated: January 25, 2023 @ 11:47 pm
One of the most sought species during the birding event is a Northern shoveler.

One of the most sought species during the birding event is a Northern shoveler.
NEWBURYPORT — Football’s Super Bowl does not take place until next month. But the Superbowl of Birding, hosted by Mass Adubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, will return for its 20th anniversary this weekend.
The event, which takes place Saturday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., will bring in birding teams from all over the region who will compete in the 12-hour competition for various awards.
Events will be hosted in Essex County and Rockingham County in New Hampshire.
Beginning in 2003 as a way to promote winter birding as well as highlighting winter bird appreciation and observation, people of all ages and abilities compete to seek the greatest number of avian species and gain points based on the rarity of birds they spot.
Joppa Flats educator and ornithologist Sarah Courchesne said the event serves as “a sort of complement to the World Series of Birding that happens down in New Jersey in May.”
Teams must register on the Mass Audubon website and have a minimum of four members and a maximum of seven.
Courchesne noted that the event will include “our newly formed accessible team for folks with various access challenges and/or disabilities, we are extra excited!”
The team, Big Sit Brant, can fully participate in the event.
Courchesne said “whether someone is blind, autistic, uses a wheelchair or deals with a mental health challenge or chronic pain, we want to be sure they can access the joys and rewards of birding. Birding as an activity does not have to be exclusive, and we are striving to make that explicit with this team.”
So far, 20 teams and about 80 people have signed up for event with sign-ups still taking place, according to Courchesne.
Individuals, couples and groups of three who wish to participate can email Courchesne at scourchesne@massaudubon.org to help identify others who need additional teammates.
Registration is $20 for adults and children ages 13 and up, and $10 for children ages 6 to 12.
After registration, teams should email joppaflats@massadubon.org with their captain’s name as well as the name of the team.
Awards for teams will include: The Joppa Cup, the greatest number of points overall; The Dave Larson Award, greatest number of species tallied; The Essex County Award, most points in Essex County; The Rockingham County Award, most points in Rockingham County; The Seekers Award, award for the first team to complete the seekers list; The Fledgling Award, first team to complete the special fledgling list; The Parker River NWR Award, most points at the wildlife refuge; The Townie Award, greatest number of species tallied from a single municipality; The Newbies Award, award for the greatest number of points tallied by any team with two or more members age 16 and under; The Sitting Duck Award, most points compiled by a team birding within a 25-foot-diameter circle; and The Lifer Award, the participant who sees the most new life birds during the competition.
More than 160 species will be included on participants’ checklists. Courchesne said the species range from very common birds such as house sparrows and American robins to very rare species such as the Pacific loon or yellow-breasted chat.
Courchesne said in terms of rare birds, some are “just plain uncommon in this part of the country at any season, but others are species that we see often here in summer, but that usually winter someplace farther south, so they’re just rare in winter in these parts.”
As for whether birding or birdwatching are the same, there is much discourse in the avian-appreciation community.
“There’s a lot of disagreement about the difference or overlap,” Courchesne said. “For me, ‘birding’ means simply appreciating and observing wild birds. I like the term, and it is more inclusive in certain ways than ‘birdwatching’ since many people enjoy birding without ever seeing/watching a bird – you can listen to birds, for example, and be a birder who birds entirely by ear.”
The Joppa Flats Education Center is at 1 Plum Island Turnpike in Newburyport.
Ashlyn Giroux writes for The Daily News of Newburyport. Email her at: agiroux@newburyportnews.com.
Ashlyn Giroux writes for The Daily News of Newburyport. Email her at: agiroux@newburyportnews.com 
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