Jan. 9, 2014

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism holds second annual birding competition

PRATT – If you can look through a pair of binoculars, spot a bird, and positively identify it, you just may have what it takes to win the 2014 Kansas Birding “Big Year” hosted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). “Big Years” are informal competitions that take place across the globe where birders compete to see who can observe the most bird species within a designated geographic area in one calendar year. The 2014 Kansas Birding Big Year will run Jan. 1-Dec. 31, spanning the state of Kansas. Participants can compete in one of three categories: youth (16 and under), adult (17-64), and senior (65 and up).Winners of each category will receive prizes to be awarded January 2015.

“The great thing about this competition is that you don’t have to own the latest equipment or know how to identify every bird species under the sun to participate,” said KDWPT wildlife education coordinatorand competition organizerMike Rader. “You just have to get out there and start looking, because you’ll be amazed at what you might find.” Rader recommends participants carry a pocket-sized notebook and pencil to record their findings. He suggests jotting down information such as size, color, sounds, and surrounding habitat, followed by a quick thumbnail sketch of the bird.

“A good way to learn how to identify birds is to watch them. Soak up as much information about them as you can, watch their flight pattern, their behavior, where they like to feed, whether they’re solitary or in a group,any little thing you notice,” said Rader. “After that, hit your books and start narrowing down what you think it may be, paying close attention to their geographical range and population abundance, because that can also serve as a good indicator of what species you may have spotted.”

Participants are asked to log their findings into the online service, eBird, available through the Cornell University web site, www.ebird.org. The data collected is then gathered and used to aide researchers in the study of species abundance, time spent in the field, and more.

For more information on the 2014 Kansas Birding Big Year, or to register, visit ksoutdoors.com/birding-big-year, or email Rader at mike.rader@ksoutdoors.com.