DEC announces 2020 ‘I Bird NY’ challenges

New York. Bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities in the U.S.

12 Jun 2020 | 02:42

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced the start of the 2020 “I Bird NY” challenges for beginner and experienced birders.

The program was launched by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2017.

“No matter where you live, birding can be enjoyed by New Yorkers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds,” Seggos said. “June is the perfect time of year to enjoy birdwatching close to home.”

Bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities in the U.S. Backyard birding, or watching birds around the home, is the most common way people engage in birding. New York State is home to a wide range of habitats that support more than 450 different bird species throughout the year. There are also 59 designated Bird Conservation Areas in the state to safeguard and enhance bird populations and habitats.

Birding challenges

DEC is hosting its annual I Bird NY Beginner’s Birding Challenge which is open to anyone 16 years of age and younger. To complete the challenge, participants must identify 10 common New York bird species and submit their challenge sheet to DEC. Entries can be mailed or emailed. All participants in this challenge will receive a certificate of participation and be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win birding accessories.

DEC is also offering the I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge. To complete the challenge, birders of any age must identify at least 10 different bird species found across New York State. All participants in this challenge will also receive a certificate of participation and be entered into a drawing for birding accessories.

Birding enthusiasts can visit I Bird NY to access this year’s challenge sheets as well as find information on where and how to watch birds, upcoming bird walks, and other events, a downloadable Beginner’s Guide to Birding (PDF) (also available in Spanish), and additional resources.

The Breeding Bird Atlas

Also starting this year, five years of field surveys are being conducted by volunteers and project partners to provide data that will be analyzed to create the third New York State Breeding Bird Atlas. Similar to the 2020 Census to track human populations and trends, the Breeding Bird Atlas is a valuable tool to help protect birds and their habitat.

To participate, volunteers can make a free eBird account and submit data online through the atlas website or via the eBird mobile app. Simply record the species and any breeding behaviors observed. All sightings can count.

As observations are reported, data can be viewed on the atlas website.

While enjoying the outdoors, please continue to follow the CDC/NYSDOH’s guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19.