The Potomac Valley Audubon Society (PVAS) will hold its fifth annual "Ruth Ann Dean Memorial Birdathon" the weekend of May 3-4.
Everyone is welcome to participate, regardless of their experience or expertise at birding.
The Birdathon offers several options for joining friendly competitions to see who can identify the highest number of bird species during the weekend inside PVAS's geographical territory (Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan counties in West Virginia and Washington County in Maryland).
PVAS bills the event as very family-friendly and says it is great way to get children more interested in birds and the natural world in general.
All its activities are free.
People can participate in the Birdathon in one of three ways.
The first way is to go out in the field, as part of a team or as an individual, and actively seek to identify as many birds as possible during any 24-consecutive-hour-period during the weekend.
Birdathon teams should be two to five members in size and can be made up of friends or family members. For those who don't have a team, PVAS can help find one.
The second way to participate is to initiate a "Big Sit," in which you choose any location you want within PVAS's territory and identify all the bird species you can see or hear from within a 50-foot diameter circleagain, within a 24-consecutive-hour-period during the weekend. You can locate your circle outside your porch or deck, in your yard, or in some favorite local spot. Here, too, one can do this on his/her own or invite friends and family to join and make it a special event. This is a much easier option, and better suited for older folks and families with small children.
The third, and easiest, way to participate is join one of three public Big Sits that PVAS is organizing for Saturday, May 3 only.
The public Big Sits will be held at these locations: the Burnside Bridge section of Antietam National Battlefield at Sharpsburg, MD; the Murphy's Farm section of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park at Harpers Ferry, WV; and the picnic area by the west entrance to Sam Michael's Park, at Shenandoah Junction, WV.
The Antietam and Harpers Ferry Sits will be held from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Sam Michael's Park Sit will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Sam Michael's Park Sit will also include a children's StoryWalkfeaturing the book "Flute's Journey" by Lynne Cherry.
Anyone with an interest is welcome to join these public Sits for their entire length or just for a while. Experienced PVAS volunteers will be on hand at each location to help people get oriented and to provide advice, and binoculars will be available for those who need them.
The rain dates for the public Sits at Harpers Ferry and Sam Michaels Park will be Sunday, May 4. There will be no rain date for the Burnside Bridge Sit.
Those participating in the field and in individual or small-group Big Sits are asked to register with PVAS. Registration is free and easy on the PVAS website. No registration is needed for the public Big Sits.
PVAS's annual Birdathon is named in honor of Ruth Ann Dean, who was a founding member and ardent supporter of PVAS. Each year, it is part of a week of local activities commemorating International Migratory Bird Day.