Birdathon History

Origins And First Use Of “Birdathon”

The term Birdathon was first used in 1976 by Bird Studies Canada to describe a fundraising event in which participants solicited pledges for the number of bird species they would count during the duration of the event. For each of the past 32 years, Bird Studies Canada’s “Baille Birdathon” has raised funds for conservation programs and projects throughout Canada.

The origins of the concept of a “Birdathon” are unclear; however it is likely an amalgamation of competitive bird listing (e.g. Big Year, Big Day) and nonprofit fundraising. Competitive bird listing dates back to at least the 1930s; businessman Guy Emerson (1887-1969) is generally credited with originating “Big Year” listing when in 1939 he counted 497 bird species in North America.

The first Birdathon in the United States was in 1977 by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now PRBO Conservation Science).

Birdathon – National Audubon Society And Audubon Chapters

Birdathon is currently the National Audubon Society’s largest annual fundraising event and bird watching competition. Audubon chapters and offices across the country help to raise nearly $1 million annually. Each spring, thousands of participants nationwide request pledges from sponsors in any amount. In return, participants pledge to count as many bird species as possible—identified either by sight or sound—within a single self-selected 24-hour period. Anyone may participate, including both novice and expert birders, and participants may fundraise either as individuals or in teams. All fundraising dollars collected go directly to supporting the mission of Audubon, habitat conservation, science, policy, and education programs.

Birdathon – Ownership And Use Of Trademark

National Audubon Society filed for a trademark on “Birdathon” on May 8, 1985. The trademark was registered on October 29, 1985. National Audubon Society renewed the Birdathon trademark in 2005.

Several of the first organizations to hold Birdathons are chapters of the National Audubon Society. Note that a chapter of the National Audubon Society is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that voluntarily affiliates with the National Audubon Society; however, National Audubon Society has not explicitly granted chapters the right to use its Birdathon trademark.