BY BOB HOLT
New Jersey is only 7,500 square miles, but it turns out you can fit a lot of birds into that space.
The 30th annual World Series of Birding will feature about 1,000 bird fanciers from across the United States counting birds beginning at 12:01 a.m. May 11.
According to njaudubon.org, teams have to identify as many species of birds as they can by sight or sound over a 24-hour period. Much of the game relies on the contestants’ integrity. No birds can be counted unless the team is standing within New Jersey lines. Teams can start or finish their search anywhere in the state.
The New York Times reports that birding teams turn in their final lists in Cape May, by midnight on May 12. Just about every species on each list have to be seen or heard by all members of a team, and unusual sightings may be questioned.
According to newsworks.org, Pete Dunne came up with the idea for the birding series in a bar in Cape May 30 years ago. The 61-year old Dunne accidentally walked out of the bar with a mug, which has become The Cape Island Cup for the World Series of Birding.
Dunne suffered a stroke about six weeks ago, but says he is working through it. “I have a heightened appreciation for bird-watching, and how anchoring and affirming it is,” he said, according to NorthJersey.com. “I always knew that bird-watching would be an activity that I could do well into my dotage.”
Even in my room at the Bacharach Rehabilitation Center, I had 38 species of birds from the window,” Dunne added.
Teams want to spot about 175 different species to be competitive, newsworks.org reports. Easier birds to spot include the American robin or the laughing gull while the bobwhite or belted kingfisher are tougher.
More information on the World Series of Birding is available here.