The Youth Birding Competition is a 24-hour birding event during the peak of spring migration. Youth teams spend the day finding as many species as they can as they compete against teams their own age. The competition is capped off with a wildlife show and awards banquet (read about the 2019 event).
Update: Because of safety precautions involving the novel coronavirus, the 2020 competition -- initially postponed from April to August -- has been canceled. The 2021 event is tentatively set for April 23-24.
Why start at 5 p.m.?
This allows younger or more low-key teams to look for owls in the evening rather than get up at midnight. It also allows older, crazier teams to bird the coast that evening and then work up to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on the next day.
Where is it?
Visit as much or as little of the state of Georgia as you want, just make it to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center by the 5 p.m. deadline to turn in your list. Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is in Mansfield, about one hour east of Atlanta. All events will be at the Conference Center Banquet Hall.
Do you need to be an expert?
No! We can pair your team with an experienced birder (mentor) to help you learn about the birds before the competition (please note that during the competition, only youth participants can identify birds).
Who does it benefit?
Your team can use this event to raise money for the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund—the main fund for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division's Wildlife Conservation Section—or for the conservation organization of your choice.
Are there prizes?
Of course! For each age group (K–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12 grades) teams will compete for the most birds seen and the most money raised. Grand prizes include new binoculars for the team finding the most birds. There will be door prizes for almost all of the participants.
How much does it cost?
Participation is absolutely free, unless you plan to spend the night at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, in which case there will be a lodging cost.
Free to all participants:
- Fun and educational day outside!
- Awards banquet
- Live animal show
- Breakfast & lunch (if participants are in the vicinity of Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center)
Prizes include (by age division):
- Most birds seen
- Most money raised
- Best rookie team
Online registration for the competition will be available here in early 2021.
Details on registration, rules, ethics, resources, becoming a mentor and more are included in the Youth Birding Competition booklet (here's the 2020 version). The booklet features a bird species checklist, but you can also download one separately.
Enjoy drawing? Learn more about the related Youth Birding T-shirt Art Contest. Participation on a birding team is encouraged but not required to submit bird artwork. The 2020 entry deadline was March 6.
Georgia's Youth Birding Competition is primarily funded by The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (TERN), friends group of the Wildlife Resources Division's Wildlife Conservation Section. For more information on TERN, including how to become a member, call 478-994-1438 or visit http://tern.homestead.com. Donations are also provided by Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies (www.atlantaaudubon.org) and Georgia Ornithological Society (www.gos.org).