On Saturday, May 12, seventy teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland and as far away as South Africa, Israel and England, raised binoculars in NJ Audubon’s 35th annual World Series of Birding (WSB). What a day it was!
The potential for encountering so many species and habitats in a 24-hour period is unrivaled in most places around the world and is the foundation for the success and longevity of the WSB. Over its 35 years, this awesome marathon birding competition has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for conservation initiatives.
We were in search of birds but took note of everything else too. Butterflies fluttered by, spring peepers sang, and a family of fox kits played at a wooded edge. While motorized vehicles were the typical mode of WSB transportation, teams that competed in the Carbon Footprint Challenge traveled only by bike, kayak, or on foot. Fifteen teams of middle and high school students inspired their adult counterparts with their boundless enthusiasm, energy, humor, and knowledge.
The WSB is unifying, inspiring, and — most importantly — empowering for the people, organizations, and communities that bring it to life and carry its message. Yes, the birds are the main attraction, the stars of the show, and the messengers of song. But we, the supporting characters, have an important, underlying story to tell—that acts of conservation can be taken by everyone and that conservation has no borders. We can and should act locally, but what happens outside of our region and our national boundaries is equally important.
In addition to being an avid birder, Cindy Ferguson is the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Director of Development. This post is the third in a series celebrating the Year of the Bird.