LAKE OCONEE — Bird watching and bird identification is a very pleasurable pastime for many people. My wife Wanda and I enjoy drawing an assortment of birds to our yard feeders and enjoy identifying the various bird species. We also get our grandchildren involved as much as possible.
In today’s article, I want to make you aware of an important bird watching event for children and young people that will be coming up in May and also a youth birding T-shirt art contest. You might say that is a long ways off but one of those two events requires planning, organization and registration for those that choose to participate.
Parents, children, teachers, youth clubs and bird watchers, Georgia’s Youth Birding Competition wants you to be involved in this annual program that is beginning its eight year. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (DNR/WRD) and The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (T.E.R.N.) and other partners like the Atlanta Audubon Society and the Georgia Ornithological Society are sponsors for the event.
This will be the eighth Georgia Youth Birding Competition and it will take place at WRD’s Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on April 13-14, 2013, and participants must register teams by March 31. Teams can register in one of four age divisions and then compete against other groups of the same age.
“Early participants in past birding events are now studying biology in college and former birding novices are now mentoring children in bird watching,” says WRD Wildlife Biologist and contest coordinator Tim Keyes. “It is incredibly rewarding to watch that happening”.
The free competition is open to teams ranging in age from kindergarten to high school (participants compete against other teams their age, in four age divisions). Fund raising is a voluntary component of this event. Teams can raise money for conservation organizations.
The competition starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, and ends at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 14. Groups may use as much or as little of that time to count as many birds as possible throughout Georgia. Although teams may start birding anywhere in the state, they must arrive at the “finish line” at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield by 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 14.
While judges examine and score the final checklists, the participants will enjoy a live animal show followed by an awards banquet with amazing prizes. The team identifying the most birds will be awarded new binoculars. At the 2012 Youth Birding Competition, participants spotted 209 different bird species and raised $1,178 for conservation.
Again this year, a T-shirt Art Contest will take place in conjunction with the Youth Birding Competition for and is open to Georgia residents in pre-K through high school. The grand-prize winning artwork will appear on the 2013 YBC T-shirt and the winning artwork will receive a $100 Michael’s gift card. Other participants can win Michael’s gift cards to redeem for art supplies.
Entering the free T-shirt Art Contest is easy, is now open and no registration is required. Participants can draw or paint their favorite Georgia bird on paper or canvas sheet (at least 8 by 10 inches and no larger than 11 by 17 inches) and then mail their artwork to the GA DNR-WRD, YBC Art Contest (Attn: Linda May), 2065 US Hwy 278 SE, Social Circle, GA 30025 in a large envelope in time to be received by March 4, 2013.
For more details on Georgia’s Youth Birding Competition visit WRD’s web site at www.georgiawildlife.com/youthbirdingcompetition and for more information on the Youth Birding Competition T-shirt Art Contest, visit WRD’s web site at www.georgiawildlife.com/ybctshirtartcontest. You can also contact the contest coordinator Tim Keyes at (912 263-3191 or at Tim_Keyes@dnr.state.ga.us.
What a wonderful way to get children and youth involved in something really positive. Why not take some time and get your children and grandchildren involved in this great annual event. See you next week.
Bobby Peoples can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.