DNR’s Youth Birding Competition Turns 18

Social Circle, Ga.

Georgia’s popular Youth Birding Competition returns for its 18th year with more experience – and enthusiasm – than ever.

The annual birdathon held by the state Department of Natural Resources and partners is set for April 12-20, with an awards ceremony and banquet the last evening at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. Teams of kindergarteners through high-schoolers will pick a 24-hour stretch during the nine-day span and compete by age group to find the most birds statewide before 5 p.m. April 20.

The 2024 competition will again include the contest-ending in-person banquet for all teams at Charlie Elliott’s conference center, about an hour east of Atlanta, coordinator Tim Keyes said.

“While we make slight changes each year, this event remains focused on introducing kids to the thrill of the natural world, where they hone their skills by planning a route and finding, identifying and tallying birds in a fun competition with others their age,” said Keyes, a DNR wildlife biologist who started the competition. “The banquet is a great way to meet other young birders and make connections that can last a lifetime.”
This year’s competition features a week-plus window for teams to bird and the option to submit checklists early via email, allowing judges to review them before teams check-in at Charlie Elliott conference center for the banquet and awards ceremony.

The model worked well last year, with 29 participating teams with 110 participants.

The goal of the birding competition is encouraging an awareness and appreciation of Georgia’s birds and the outdoors. About 100 youth take part each year. Keyes is hoping that even more organizations, from Scouts and schools to nature centers and birding groups, enter or sponsor a team this year.

Register at https://georgiawildlife.com/ybc. The deadline is March 31.

The event is free and birding expertise is not required. Mentors are available to help beginning teams.

There is also a companion T-shirt Art Contest (https://georgiawildlife.com/YBCTshirtArtContest). The deadline to submit art contest entries was Feb. 1.

Sponsors of the Youth Birding Competition 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.

Competition/At A Glance

  • What: Fun, free event engaging youth in the outdoors and learning about birds. Participants will receive a T-shirt and (most likely) prizes!
  • When: Bird during a 24-hour period from 5 p.m. April 12 to 5 p.m. April 20. Banquet and awards ceremony is 5:30 p.m. April 20 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (Mansfield).
  • Where: Bird anywhere in Georgia but check-in at the Charlie Elliott conference center by 5 p.m. April 20.
  • Registration: Sign up at https://georgiawildlife.com/ybc by March 31.