2016 Columbus Audubon Birdathon: Team names as diverse as species seen

The team names were as colorful as the participants and their experiences during this year’s Columbus Audubon Birdathon.

Twelve teams participated in the annual event, in which the goal is to see a specific number of species during one day each May.

A few teams went the distance in the 24-hour birding marathon searching various habitats throughout the state.

The Benannaquits, one of our new teams this year, tallied 144 species, while Archaeopteryx added 148 and Wild Birds Unlimited Sawmill logged the highest total of 160.

Columbus Metro Parks and state lands were productive for long-standing teams such as the Metro Parks Stellar Jays (95 species), Swans and Coots (68 species) and Slate (Run) Colored Juncos (72 species). Another new team, Creekside Coots, far exceeded their prediction of 65 and landed a whopping 104 species in a single habitat.

Some specialized teams adopted different methods, such as the Low Carbon Footprint team which birded by bike and foot to the tune of 54 species. The Rawnderosa Robins took a casual approach, enjoying every moment of their time together afield gathering 37 species.

Of course we can’t forget the Deck Birds, who eschew field and forest to relax and bird in their own back yard, savoring their favorite beverages and foodie delights on the way to a perennial last place tally of one species.

While the Birdathon is of great benefit to Columbus Audubon, it is a blast for the participants, who enjoy a wonderful day afield in great company. And the stories are epic.

Dave Horn, who relocated to Massachusetts, rounded up a new team (Mass Audubon Renegades), and takes the prize for the most unlikely-for-Ohio species with Northern Gannet, Common Eider, Black Guillemot, Iceland Gull and Purple Sandpiper on their way to 98 species total.

The Slate (Run) Colored Juncos were buzzed by a Peregrine Falcon, and Archaeopteryx had a Greater White-fronted Goose drop out of the sky at Killdeer Plains in one of those “right place-right time” moments.

The Wandering Warblers recruited an avid birder who had never been to Magee Marsh, and were treated to one of those rare and magical “dripping bird” days during migration on the way to 116 species.

No matter what the reason for participating, great fun was had by all, and we exceeded our goal of $8,000 in funds raised for worthwhile Columbus Audubon projects.

It is not too early to start planning for next year’s CA Birdathon, so make a note in your May calendar, rustle up some friends and family, and join us on the birding trail in 2017!

Tom Sheley