Here's how it works: Simply keep track of how many species of birds as you can from a window in one 30-minute interval.
I have done many of these contests with friends and acquaintances so far. The response has been enthusiastic, and the results have provided some nice surprises.
The Birdy 30 is a practical alternative to the usual birding events and competitions, which typically run for 365 days (a big year), 24 hours (a big day), and a big hour ( the Celery Farm Natural Area, for example, hosts an “Hour on the Tower” every Sunday morning in warmer weather).
The trouble is that these fine events can be frightfully boring for casual birders. After 20 minutes, you glance at your watch and cringe at how much time is left. And if the weather is too hot, too cold or too wet, ugh! -- I’m guessing a good time is not had by all.
With the Birdy 30, you can relax, have a cup of coffee, and chill. You can even listen to music, wear pajamas, or (gasp) talk on the phone without fear of disturbing fellow participants.
And if a youngster wants to know what you’re seeing with your binoculars, you may have yourself a future bird-watching companion -- the best dividend of all.
Do as many as you like. You can send me your list at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are on the honor system here, but please don’t strain credulity. And if you see something extraordinary, please take a photo and share it.
Nothing can compare with going outside and experiencing nature first-hand, but competing in the Birdy 30 challenge is not a bad Plan B these days.
(Above, a photo of a rare -- for the East Coast -- Rufous Hummingbird I photographed at a feeder last fall.)