State offers two challenges for birders

The IBirdNY campaign is starting its second year.

From Montauk to Buffalo, New York is home to a wide array of habitats that support more than 450 different bird species, according to a release from the state’s Department of Conservation, which oversees the program. There are also 59 Bird Conservation Areas across the state. Bird watching is one of the fastest-growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and experiences in any community.

To help encourage young people to get outdoors, the DEC is hosting an I BIRD NY Beginners Birding Challenge open to anyone 16 years of age and younger. All participants will receive a completion certificate and an official I BIRD NY bracelet, and will be entered to win birding accessories, including binoculars and spotting scopes. To complete the Beginners Birding Challenge, participants must find 10 common New York bird species.

This year, DEC is introducing a new birding challenge open to adults. Current birders are encouraged to take birding to the next level by taking the I BIRD NY Experienced Birder Challenge.

To complete the challenge, birders must find at least 10 of 50 listed bird species found across New York State. All participants in this challenge will receive a special certificate, bracelet, and be entered into a drawing for a spotting scope. All entries for the two challenges must be received by Sept. 30.‎

This year, 2018, has been named the Year of the Bird by the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, BirdLife International, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, childhood obesity has doubled over the past 20 years and the average American child spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day, and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen. Accessible state lands, parks, and facilities can promote physical activity, an important element of overall wellness, the release says. These assets provide low-cost opportunities to explore the great outdoors and to connect with nature.

Birding and wildlife watching also provide significant economic impacts to New York’s communities. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, wildlife watchers spent $4.2 billion on wildlife-watching activities in New York State in 2011.

Visit I Bird NY to find the two challenges, and for information on where and how to bird watch, upcoming bird walks and other events, a downloadable kids booklet, and additional resources.

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