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Spring Youth Birding Competition is back, and bigger


Georgia’s popular Youth Birding Competition is returning to spring this year and offering in-person and virtual ways for teams to take part.

While COVID-19 canceled the competition in 2020 and forced the switch to a virtual event in the fall last year, the 16th annual birdathon is set for April 15-23. Teams of kindergarteners through high-schoolers will pick a 24-hour stretch during that span and compete by age group to find the most birds statewide.

New this year, teams can participate virtually or in person. The hybrid approach provides the excitement of a rush to the finish line while accommodating coronavirus concerns and teams that cannot attend the awards ceremony at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, said competition coordinator Tim Keyes.

“We are thrilled to see teams in person again, as so much of the fun of the event culminates in the banquet and awards ceremony,” said Keyes, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “We are also continuing to use what we learned while coping with COVID to improve and expand the competition’s scope and opportunities to engage young birders.”

The event is free and birding expertise is not required. Register at by March 31.

The Youth Birding Competition and a companion T-shirt art contest (enter by March 15; details at are aimed at encouraging an awareness and appreciation of birds and the outdoors. About 100 youth take part each year. Event sponsors include The Environmental Resources Network or TERN – friends group of DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section – Georgia Ornithological Society and the Georgia and Albany Audubon societies.

For the upcoming competition, teams will choose to participate virtually or in person. Those going virtual will choose a 24-hour period to find birds between 5 p.m. April 15 and 5 p.m. April 22, then e-mail or submit via eBird ( their checklist of bird species seen or heard by 5 p.m. that last day.

“In-person” teams will pick a 24-hour stretch from 5 p.m. April 15 to 5 p.m. April 23 – an extra day that incorporates the event’s traditional birding period – and hand in their checklist at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center’s conference center near Mansfield by 5 p.m. April 23.

The awards ceremony and banquet that follows will be livestreamed for virtual teams to watch.

Learn more about the competition and register at, and about the Youth Birding Competition T-shirt Art Contest at