Participant Orientation

What is a Birdathon?

The Birdathon is a fundraiser for Columbus Audubon in which individuals form or join a bird watching team and solicit sponsors to pledge a fixed amount of money or donate an amount per species seen. Then they go birding! It’s similar to a walk-a-thon, but rather than setting a goal for the number of miles walked, the Birdathon members try to see as many species of birds as possible. Times and locations are decided by the individual teams.

The money raised by the Birdathon goes to Columbus Audubon and is used to support activities including grants for research projects, public programs with nationally recognized speakers, scholarships for environmental education, and the Central Ohio Chapter of the Ohio Young Birder’s Club. The Birdathon is the most important fundraiser for Columbus Audubon!

Participating in Birdathon is easy! You can

  • find one or more friends to start your own team, or
  • contact an existing team you are interested in which is “open” to receiving new members (open teams are identified as such in the list of Birdathon teams), or
  • join a “guided” team for a day.

If you need help in making a choice, send an email to and a committee member will contact you.

Team Approaches

Some Birdathon teams like to use their event as a “big day” of birding and strive to see the most birds during their Birdathon. Other teams take a (sometimes much) more casual approach. Teams tailor their Birdathon participation to suit their team’s interest. Ultimately, Birdathon is all about allowing our members to raise money while having fun!


  • Competitive or “Big Day” style: Teams can bird for up to 24 hours, midnight to midnight. (Don’t worry, if you aren’t into that, you can pick your own times!) Teams follow a basic set of rules so that everyone is on an even playing field. Teams compete to see the most birds, and most teams do see many species.
    • Statewide: The really competitive (crazy?) teams often travel statewide, although they can bird anywhere they want. They go for a maximum number of species, often over 150.
    • Central Ohio (Franklin and adjacent counties plus Clear Creek MetroPark): These teams often bird 12 to 24 hours, but restrict themselves to a single geographic area. These teams see a moderately high numbers of species, often over 100.
    • Low Carbon (fixed start point, no driven miles permitted after start): These teams bird on foot (or by bike), so are restricted to a smaller area. But they still often see a fairly high number of species, sometimes nearly 100 or more.
  • Non-Competitive style: Same basic rules as competitive teams but take more latitude for creativity in their approach to Birdathon and with the rules. They bird 1 to 12 hours. Rather than competing with other teams, these teams are focused on fun. They still may see fair numbers of species, can travel or stay in one location, and are recognized for creativity rather than species tally.

Closed, Open, and Guided Teams

Closed Teams: Some teams are all set, ready to go, and are not accepting new members.

Open Teams: Some teams already have formed but do accept new members. If you would like to join an existing team, check the list of teams for ones marked “open”.

Guided Teams: Several teams are specifically designed for those who want to try out the Birdathon but are not quite ready to join a regular team. We currently have three such teams:

  • Green Lawn: Mostly on foot. Limited walking and limited time. Led by Warren Grody.
  • Northern Hoover Reservoir: This team will spread its wings. Depending on participant interest, will cover various habitats. Time dependent on participant interest. Birdathon style birding. Led by Rob Thorn.
  • Grange Insurance Audubon Center: Covers the GIAC, Berliner Park or adjacent Important Bird Area. Led by GIAC Conservation Manager Anne Balogh. Walking involved.