Registration Opens for Georgia Youth Birding Competition

Social Circle, GA
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 09:00

It’s time for young birders to begin honing their bird-identifying skills as they prepare for the annual Georgia Youth Birding Competition, set for April 27–28.

Registration is open and online at

This fun, free competition for all youth—whether new to birding or not—has been connecting young Georgians with the outdoors for 13 years. At the start in 2005, coordinator Tim Keyes of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and other organizers simply hoped to make it through one year.

Since, the Youth Birding Competition has built an impressive record. It has helped develop an interest in birds and wildlife, spurring some competitors to study ecology and natural resources management in college. Some former birding novices are now veterans and mentoring younger birders. As a voluntary part of the competition, teams also have raised more than $20,000 for conservation.

Keyes, a wildlife biologist with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, said he is thrilled at the positive impact and looks forward to the competition “going for another 13 years!”

The fun this year begins April 27 when the 24-hour statewide birdathon for teams varying in ages from kindergarteners to high school seniors returns. The deadline to register is March 31. Complete information, including online registration, is at

The competition and an accompanying T-shirt Art Contest are sponsored by DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (TERN)—friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section—and others including the Georgia Ornithological Society and the Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies. A banquet and awards ceremony will be held April 28 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. The dinner also features a live animal presentation.

Teams register in one of four age divisions and compete against other groups their age. Participants can also volunteer to raise money for conservation organizations.

The Youth Birding Competition is designed for youth of all skill levels. Those new to birding can take advantage of mentoring opportunities offered through the competition.

The contest starts at 5 p.m. Friday, April 27, and ends at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 28. Groups may use as much or as little of that time to count as many birds as possible throughout Georgia.

Although teams can start birding anywhere in the state, they must turn in their checklists at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center by 5 p.m. that Saturday. While judges examine and score checklists, participants are treated to a live animal show followed by an awards banquet packed with prizes.

The Youth Birding Competition also includes a T-shirt Art Contest. Deadline to enter is March 15. Participation in the birding competition is encouraged but not required to enter the T-shirt Art Contest.

There is no charge for either contest, aside from the optional cost of overnight lodging at Charlie Elliott.

For details about the competition, including registering online, visit Tim Keyes can be reached at 912-262-3191 or Information about the Charlie Elliott Conference Center, including lodging, is available by calling Robin Thompson at (770) 784-3122.

For more information on the T-shirt Art Contest, visit or contact art contest coordinator Linda May at 706-557-3226 or

2018 Youth Birding Competition

  • What: Free bird-a-thon and fundraiser for youth from kindergarten through high school.
  • When: April 27–28, 2018. Deadline to enter: March 31.
  • Where: Teams can bird anywhere in the state, but must arrive at the finish line at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield by 5 p.m. April 28.
  • T-shirt Art Contest: Enter by March 15. Details at or contact art contest coordinator Linda May at 706-557-3226 or
  • Registration: Online at For details on lodging at Charlie Elliott Conference Center, contact Robin Thompson, 770-784-3122.
  • Birding competition contact: Tim Keyes, 912-262-3191 or
  • Other details, including participation booklet and forms: