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Rites of Spring in Georgia: Youth Birding Competition, Georgia Bird Fest

A Scarlet Tanager. (Photo by Richard Xu, courtesy of Georgia Audubon.)

By David Pendered

Registration is open for two major birding events. One serves young fans of birds and the other targets armchair ornithologists.

The first event is the Georgia Youth Birding Competition. The registration deadline is March 31. The event is free for participants. Youths are invited to use the event as a fundraising opportunity. Proceeds are to benefit the Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund.

The Youth Birding Competition is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and primarily funded by The Environmental Resources Network, Inc. (TERN), a friends group of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division’s Wildlife Conservation Section.

The competition consists of teams of youngsters, grouped by age, picking a 24-hour period to go out and try to identify the most species of birds. The 24-hour window is to be chosen from April 15 to April 23.

The age categories are kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grades, sixth through eighth grades and ninth through 12th grades.

Teams can search for birds anywhere in the state. The competition can be fierce, with some teams in the past traversing the state in search of the greatest number of species.

DNR reports that younger birders tend to stay around their residences and local parks. Excursions are appropriate for older children and an example given for metro Atlanta youths is to start in an area such as Kennesaw Mountain, which shelters a large number of migrant songbirds. The high school students may be up for a road trip that could begin on the coast and move toward the mountains.

This year’s event is hybrid. Teams can submit their counts online, or by attending the closing ceremony at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, near Mansfield. The deadlines for submissions are April 22 at 5 p.m. if filing remote and April 23 at 5 p.m. if filing in-person at the conference center.

Awards and T-shirts will be mailed to participants who do not attend the in-person event. Door prizes will be available to almost every participant who attends the closing ceremony.

Georgia Audubon is hosting its seventh annual Georgia Bird Fest for adult birders.

The event is scheduled between April 23 and May 15. More than 40 events are scheduled. Some major events are full and waitlists are accepting names.

Rosemary Mosco is to deliver the keynote opening speech virtually on April 24. Mosco co-wrote the best-selling book, “The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid.” Her latest book is “A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching,” a field guide to observing one of the world’s most commonly seen birds. Mosco has written for the PBS children’s show, “Elinor Wonders Why.”

Dudley Edmondson is to deliver the closing keynote speech on May 15 at Sweetwater Brewing. Edmondson is an author and filmmaker known for his work highlighting people of color in the outdoors. He wrote “Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places.” His photos have appeared in nearly 100 publications, including “Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide,” produced in collaboration by National Audubon and BirdLife International.

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David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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