Youth Birding Competition

The 2018 YBC is scheduled for April 27 & 28, with details coming in fall 2017.

Annual Youth Birding Competition

What is it?

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.

When is it?

The 2017 event is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, April 29, to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 30. Teams can use as much of this 24-hour period as they like, as long as they cross the finish line and turn in their list by 5 p.m. April 30. Registration is open. The deadline to sign up is March 31. Read about the 2016 event.

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 5 p.m. April 30 to turn in your list. Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is in Mansfield, Ga., 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 Nongame 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, 9-12th 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 lodging costs will be factored.

FREE to all participants:

  • Fun and educational day outside!
  • Awards banquet
  • Live animal show
  • T-shirt
  • 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

How can you register?

Register here by March 31. If you have questions, email Tim Keyes or contact him at: 

Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Wildlife Resources Division
One Conservation Way
Suite 310

Brunswick, GA  31520

(912) 262-3191

How can you learn more?

Download the YBC participation booklet.

What's this about Twitter and Instagram? 

Teams can share photos and updates on what birds they’re seeing or hearing on Twitter and Instagram. Simply tweet your photos or post them on Instagram with the hashtag #YBC2017. Tag us on Twitter @GeorgiaWild and on Instagram @GeorgiaWildlife


Georgia's Youth Birding Competition is primarily funded by The Environmental Resources Network Inc. (TERN), friends group of the Wildlife Resources Division's Nongame Conservation Section. For more information on TERN, including how to become a member, call (478) 994-1438 or visit


Donations are also provided by Eagle Optics (, Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies ( and and Georgia Ornithological Society (


Got a question about the YBC? Contact us at (912) 262-3191.

Participation Booklet

For detailed information on how to register and participate in the Youth Birding Competition, please download the Youth Birding Competition participation booklet.


  1. All teams must have an adult chaperone/driver.
    1. Participants must identify birds on their own – Adults must not help locating or identifying birds.
  2. If team comes to a consensus on the identification of a bird, and the adult knows it is wrong, they can strike the species from the list. Teams cannot count that individual bird again, though if they encounter the species again and correctly identify it, it can go on the list. This helps avoid the identification becoming a “guessing game” until they hit upon the correct identification.
  3. Teams must have at least 2 participants and not more than 5.
  4. Teams must compete within the age division of their oldest participant.
  5. Team members must stay within voice contact of each other at all times.
  6. All birds counted must be identified by at least 2 team members.
  7. Count only full species (as listed on official GOS State Checklist).
  8. Birds must be conclusively identified by sight or sound. A bird only identified to group (i.e. scaup, either greater or lesser) may be counted as a species, if no other bird from that group appears on the list.
  9. Birds counted must be alive, wild, unrestrained and within the state of Georgia.
  10. Participants must follow the American Birding Association (ABA) code of Birding Ethics (pages 9-10 in the YBC participation booklet).
    1. Obey all access rules to public lands, and acquire permission to access private land.
  11. Electronic or recorded birdcalls may be used (within ABA code of birding ethics) - i.e. not used with rare or endangered species, or in areas where their use is prohibited (some National Wildlife Refuges).
  12. Flushing birds from nests or cavities is not allowed.
  13. Teams can travel as much of the state as they want.
  14. Birds can only be counted during the 24-hour count starting at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 29, and ending at 5 p.m. Sunday, April 30.
  15. If your team birds at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center (Clybel Wildlife Management Area), be aware that a quota turkey hunt is scheduled for April 24-30. Please follow these guidelines to reduce the chances of conflict:
    1. Stay within the safety zones (marked on area map) or along main roads and lakes
    2. Hunters cannot discharge a firearm within 50 yards of public roads, but be aware of their vehicles and avoid playing owl calls or being loud in the vicinity (slamming car doors, etc.)
    3. Don’t walk beyond closed gates.
  16. The team must submit the checklist no later than 5 p.m. Sunday, April 30.
  17. Totals are considered final once lists are submitted.
  18. The decision of the judges in all rulings is final.


The main point of this competition is to have fun outside while learning about the wonderful birds of Georgia. You can count birds in your yard or traverse the state. A team that successfully identifies 20 species in their yard and has a great time is just as important as a team that drives hundreds of miles and finds 120 species or more. Because different teams will want to take different approaches, general advice and several possible routes are provided here. None of this information should be seen as the right way to do it, as most of the fun of birding is exploring on your own and finding good places and birds.

General Strategy:


1. Birds are creatures of habitat:
The more habitats you visit, the more bird species you will find. Many species are only found in specific habitats, and if you don’t visit these sites, you won’t find the birds. Therefore, as you plan where to go, try to include as many different types of habitats as possible such as ponds, lakes, streams, pine forests, hardwood forests, fields, wetlands, etc. By understanding the basic habitat preferences of our birds, you will know what to expect in each habitat you visit. Edges between habitat types can be particularly good places to look for birds.


2. Birds are also creatures of habit:It is helpful to know what to expect in spring in Georgia. Many wintering species, including many sparrows and ducks, will have already left the state. Most of the breeding birds will be back, and of course there will be many birds migrating through Georgia that breed further north. A good reference is the bar chart section of Giff Beaton’s Birding Georgia that shows when each species can be found in Georgia (see below).


3. The more you know, the more you will find:
It goes without saying that the more you know about the birds, the more you will find. You will learn to make identifications with just a quick look, or even by the song alone. This type of skill takes time to develop however, so don’t get frustrated. Instead, take advantage of your team mentor and training days designed to help you develop these skills. Just as important, get outside on your own with binoculars and a field guide, and practice. Don’t stop once you have identified a bird. Studying behavior can be a great way to learn more about a bird and will help you identify it more quickly the next time you see it.


4. Take advantage of easily available birding resources:
If you plan to travel throughout the state, Giff Beaton’s book Birding Georgia is invaluable. It shows more than 100 top birding sites in the state with birding strategies and species to expect. Most of the sites mentioned in this discussion are in this book, with detailed maps and directions. There are many local Audubon chapters in Georgia with expert birders and monthly meetings where you can meet and learn from other birders. A great resource for up-to-date information on good birding sites by county in Georgia can be found at See the Birding Resources section of this booklet (page 20).

Specific Strategies:

Since different teams may approach this event with a wide range of intensity, below are three possible routes based on a mellow, intermediate or hard-core approach.


If you want a good night’s sleep and a relaxing day, consider staying at the Wildlife Resources Division's Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center's Conference Center on the first afternoon and enjoy birding the 6,400-acre Clybel Wildlife Management Area (WMA). You can look for owls in the evening and explore the rest of the area on the following day. A day birding within the borders of Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center can be exciting. In one day in late April, 100 species were seen on the property alone (75 species is more typical). Pick up an area map at the Visitors’ Center kiosk on Elliott Trail, which is off the main entrance road (Marben Farms Road) from Hwy 11.

One of the highlights at Charlie Elliott is that you can find all of Georgia’s nesting owls on the property, usually without too much difficulty (if you get up early enough). Typically, the mixed pinewoods along the road by the Visitors’ Center will house an Eastern Screech Owl, while the creek bottom behind the Visitors’ Center will often yield up a Barred Owl. Great-horned Owls take a bit more work, but they are often heard at the south end of the property near the farm complex, which is also where Barn Owls nest. Standing next to the tile barn silos at night, you can often hear the young Barn Owls hissing, which is enough to count the species. You will want a recording of the other owl calls to get them to call back to you, because by May, our owls are calling less than they do in the winter. (Keep in mind this site around the barns is closed to the public except for this event – so only visit the barns during the competition – and do not enter the barn.)

While looking (or listening) for owls, keep your ears open for other nocturnal species as you can often hear Whip-poor-will, Chuck-wills-widow, and even diurnal species such as Yellow-breasted Chat and Grasshopper Sparrow.

When the sun rises, you want to be in places where the sun is hitting the treetops, warming up the insects and getting the birds excited. The woods around the Visitors’ and Conference Center can be good, but the most productive place tends to be the woods and trails around the Brooke Ager Discovery Room and Campsites. These areas often hold most of your migrants. Find flocks of Chickadees and Tufted Titmice, because warblers and vireos often travel with them. Look for Orchard Orioles fighting over territories and the brilliant Baltimore Orioles showing off in the tops of the Tulip Poplars. The little cove of trees around the Gopher Tortoise enclosure near the Brooke Ager Discovery Room tends to be good for migrants such as Cape May Warbler, American Redstart, and many others. As the day warms up, many migrants will move into creek bottoms, which remain cooler later in the day. There you can also find the loud-but-cryptic Louisiana Waterthrush and Acadian Flycatcher.

At some point you will want to visit open fields for grassland birds. A reliable spot is the area between Hwy. 11 and the information kiosk on Marben Farms Road. A highpoint of land here is good for scoping birds of prey, as well as finding Meadowlark, Grasshopper, Savannah and Field Sparrow, as well as Killdeer and some of the scrub-loving birds like Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak and Common Yellowthroat. If there are any lingering Northern Harriers or American Kestrels, this is the place to find them. Then you will certainly want to visit many of the ponds to find herons and any lingering or breeding ducks. Always keep your ears open for the dry rattle of a passing Belted Kingfisher. Look over the water for swallows, which often feed on insects over the lakes.

While driving through the area, look for bushes approximately head height in size and you may find Prairie Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Also keep your eyes on the wires and you won’t miss Eastern Bluebird and Northern Mockingbird. Look carefully at the Mockingbird because there are usually a few Loggerhead Shrikes hanging around as well, especially around open fields.



If you are interested in doing some serious exploring, but driving to the coast sounds a bit crazy, there are many great birding locations within a relatively easy drive of Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. A great place to start is Pine Log Wildlife Management Area north of Atlanta, where you can get Whip-poor-will and Chuck-wills-widows as well as several owls if you start early enough (several hours before dawn). As dawn breaks, you will be overwhelmed with the dawn chorus, so any preparation on bird songs will pay big dividends. Listen for Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Ovenbird, Blue-winged warbler, Hooded Warbler, Kentucky Warbler and others. If lucky, you may even find a Red-crossbill, a rare species in Georgia.

From here consider making your way to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (a good alternate start point if you want to sleep in a bit). On weekends, you cannot drive to the top, so prepare for a rapid walk, again keeping eyes and ears peeled for the sometimes-daunting flocks of warblers, vireos, tanagers and thrushes moving through the treetops. Virtually anything is possible here, as up to 30 warbler species have been seen in a single day in late April.

A good spot to visit south of Atlanta is The Newman Wetlands Center of the Clayton County Water Authority  and E.L. Huie Land Application Facility in Clayton County. The boardwalk at the nature center can be excellent for migrants and offers the possibility of all but one of Georgia’s woodpeckers (Red-cockaded Woodpecker). The treatment ponds at E. L. Huie, though often a bit smelly, are a great spot for herons, a few lingering ducks, Purple Martins and usually an assortment of shorebirds if the water levels are low. Keep your eyes on the treetops and distant power poles because birds of prey are often seen around the treatment ponds.

If you are feeling ambitious (and have time) you should head straight for Bondsview Road at Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) just east of Macon. This single dirt road will often yield the elusive Swainson’s Warbler, as well as the brilliant Prothonotary Warbler, American Redstarts, the drab Acadian Flycatcher, and with luck a Mississippi Kite that has nested in the area.

By now you probably will need to return to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, about an hour north of Macon. If you have time, you may be able to stop at Piedmont NWR (see below) or head straight to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center before turning in your list at 5 p.m.


Hard Core:

In order to see the most birds possible in one day (the record is just under 200 species), you need to bird the coast of Georgia. Given the finish line at 5 p.m., the best way to do this would be to position your team on the coast on the first evening and find as many coastal specialties between 5 p.m. and dark. You will need to select at least one beach site (either Jekyll Island south beach or Gould’s Inlet on St. Simons Island) and one inland/freshwater wetland site (Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area or Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge) to maximize your species count.

On the beach sites, look for gulls, terns, migratory shorebirds and Reddish Egret. Anywhere you have scrubby vegetation, look for the brilliant Painted Bunting. Freshwater wetland sites should turn up almost every heron species in Georgia, as well as possible Wood Storks, rails and lingering ducks. Keep your eyes on the sky for a Bald Eagle, Mississippi or Swallow-tailed Kite.

If you made good time on the coast, you may want to visit the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum & Nature Center, which offers bottomland forest species such as Swainson’s Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher and others.

If you are driving on Interstate 16, a productive stop is a loop around East Georgia Turf Farm near Statesboro (Exit 116), which is often a key site for picking up grassland shorebirds, Horned Larks, Loggerhead Shrike, and maybe even an American Kestrel. If you skipped the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal a quick trip down Bondsview Road to Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (just east of Macon) may pick up your bottomland hardwood forest species.

Doing this route you will be pressed for time, but if you have time to stop at Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, you may even be able to find an endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (check with refuge staff about the best places to find them), along with other open pine species like Bachman’s Sparrow, Bobwhite Quail, Brown-headed Nuthatch and others. At this point you will probably need to head straight to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. If you arrive with time to spare, see above for specific places to visit before turning in your list.

Regardless of where you go, the most important thing is to stay safe, have fun, and turn in your checklist by 5 p.m.!

Being a YBC Mentor


What is the Youth Birding Competition (YBC)?

The YBC is a 24-hour competitive bird count where students compete against other teams to find as many birds as they can in a day in Georgia. The 2017 event is April 29-30, starting at 5 p.m. Saturday and ending at 5 p.m. Sunday. Teams can start wherever they like and bird wherever they want, but they must arrive at the finish line (Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center) and turn in their lists by 5 p.m. Sunday. While the lists are being tallied, there will be a live wildlife program followed by a banquet and awards ceremony.


What is a birding mentor?

A birding mentor could be a teacher, a parent or an interested birder who knows the birds well enough to help a team of students learn to identify birds. When mentors meet with their teams, a teacher or parent must be present.

What does a mentor have to do?

Mentors must commit to meeting with their teams at least three times before the event. Mentors will also have access to:

  • Checklists and other information about the birding competition.
  • Strategy and fundraising tips, and birder resource guides.
  • Bird slides (on CD) of 65 common species.
  • PowerPoint program on bird identification.
  • Other select bird education materials.

It is not necessary for the mentors to join the team on the day of the event, though they are welcome to. On the day of the competition the students cannot get any help finding or identifying birds from their chaperone/mentor.

What do mentors get?

Mentors will receive a free Youth Birding Competition T-shirt (bound to become a collector’s item) and free admission to the awards banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center on April 30. The mentor who commits the most time and energy to their team will win a fantastic prize!

If these material things don’t interest you, rest in the satisfaction that you are helping pass on your love of birds to the next generation.

Birding Resources


Local Audubon chapters and other bird clubs often lead bird walks open to the public of all ages. Some also have monthly meetings with interesting speakers. Several have regular newsletters. Atlanta Audubon Society teaches a Master Birder Class for those interested in delving more deeply into the study of birds.

Georgia Chapters:

For information on other birding clubs and birding in Georgia resources, visit the Georgia Ornithological Society Web site,


These projects generally require some basic bird identification ability, internet access, and a place to watch birds.  These are all great projects to help collect data and learn the birds in your area.

Visit or for more details.

Breeding Bird Survey -
Requires good bird identification skills by sight and sound. Contact the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division's Nongame Conservation Section office for more information: (478) 994-1438.

Christmas Bird Count -
The longest-running citizen science project in the U.S.  Dates can be found at (website for the Georgia Ornithological Society).


Project Flying WILD or Project WILD - Bird curriculum designed to help middle school students implement school bird festivals and bird conservation projects. Includes many hands-on activities and events.

Project WILD Activities -  Use the Project WILD activities listed below (found in the Project WILD K-12 Activity Guide) for fun and educational bird programs. Each activity contains all the information needed to conduct the activity including objectives, method, background information, a list of materials needed, procedures, evaluation suggestions, recommended grade levels, subject areas, duration, group size, setting, and key terms.

  • Changing the Land
  • Rare Bird Eggs for Sale
  • Shrinking Habitat
  • Migration Barriers (deer not birds)
  • No Water Off a Duck's Back
  • Hazardous Links, Possible Solutions
  • Birds of Prey
  • Bird Song Survey

Audubon Adventures - This grades 4-6 classroom kit includes materials for 32 students: Student Newspaper, lesson plans, tips for outdoor study, hands on activities and guide to a healthy schoolyard.

Friends of Feathered Flyers Bird Activity Boxes - Free loan Georgia Partners in Flight interactive educational activity boxes filled with bird education videos, youth and adult binoculars, bird eggs, nests, lesson plans, books, and posters. Boxes can be checked out for free on a two-week basis from local nature centers across the state. For more information, contact the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section: (478) 994-1438.

Create Bird Habitat at Home or School - Several organizations help schools develop wildlife habitat in schoolyards for education and conservation. These organizations offer guidelines to create water, food, shelter and space for wildlife. For funding ideas, visit Citizen Science in the Schoolyard .

National Wildlife Federations (GWF) Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide - The Georgia Schoolyard Wildlife Habitat Planning Guide provides information and resources to transform barren schoolyards into vital habitat for wildlife, and vibrant places of learning for students. By creating and studying wildlife habitats on their school grounds, students get a first-hand glimpse at the natural world, and the chance to make a difference for conservation in Georgia.


American Bird Conservancy: Provides information on a wide range of conservation topics, such as the Cats Indoors Campaign.  Cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in the U.S. alone, as well as other wildlife species.

National Audubon Society

Partners in Flight: International cooperative group of federal, state, and private organizations working to protect migratory landbirds.

Birding Software: Pictures and calls for all North American species, natural history information on all species, and games to help learn birds.

Hummingbirds: This site provides information on attracting, watching,
feeding, and studying North American hummingbirds, migration maps, and tracking northward and southward movements.

International Migratory Bird Day (or International Migratory Bird Day celebrates the incredible journeys of migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central, and South America. The event, which takes place on the second Saturday in May each year, encourages bird conservation and increases awareness of birds through hikes, bird watching, information about birds and migration, public events, and a variety of other education programs.

Journey North: A Global Study of Wildlife Migration: Students in grades 4-12 witness the wonders of migration as they travel 'live' with some of the world's most accomplished adventurers (The Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project)

Annotated Checklist of Georgia Birds: Available from the Georgia Ornithological

Handbook of Bird Biology: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2004. Excellent ornithology text.

2017 Youth Birding Competition Results

The Georgia Youth Birding Competition again showed its value this weekend, drawing a diverse crowd of young birders who learned about and enjoyed the outdoors as they ranged from the coast to metro Atlanta looking and listening for birds.

About 80 youth ages 4-18 took part in the 12th annual Department of Natural Resources birdathon, held from 5 p.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday. Teams used as much of the 24-hour period as members wanted to count native bird species. For 40 percent of participants, it was their first Youth Birding Competition.

The Chaotic Kestrels led all teams with 160 species. Patrick Maurice and Angus Pritchard of Atlanta, Sam Murray of Augusta, John Deitsch of Duluth and Josiah Lavender of Watkinsville birded from St. Simons Island to middle Georgia, finishing long after midnight Saturday and starting again before dawn Sunday.

For Maurice, who graduates this spring, Sunday ended his 10th and last Youth Birding Competition as a competitor.Why take part for 10 years? “It’s so fun!” Maurice said. “It gets other people interested in birds, and working with other birders has helped me become a better birder.”

Murray, the team’s other senior, credits the 2011 birding movie The Big Year with kindling into flame an interest his father had encouraged. “That movie showed me how competitive birding can be,” he said.

Murray plans to study ecology at the University of the South. Maurice will focus on ecology or wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. Both interests mirror the competition’s purpose: develop an appreciation of birds and have a positive impact on conservation, according to coordinator Tim Keyes.

The Youth Birding Competition “is giving (participants) a good, positive experience in the field,” said Keyes, a wildlife biologist with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.

The event also featured a T-shirt art contest that drew 248 entries. Birders turning in their checklists Sunday were given shirts featuring a blue jay drawn and painted by Ava Wang, 16, a 10th-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth. As grand-prize winner, Wang received a $100 Michaels gift card.

In another part of the competition, teams raised $1,951 for conservation, a voluntary part of the event that pushed the 12-year total past $20,000. The Chaotic Kestrels led with $983.

Tom Painting, mentor of the Pi-ed-billed Grebes, was presented the 2017 mentor award.

Sponsors included The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, friends group of DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section; Georgia Ornithological Society; Atlanta Audubon Society; Eagle Optics; and, Partners in Flight. The event's reach is being multiplied by Race4Birds (, a foundation that is helping spread the concept. The competition also was recognized last year by One Hundred Miles, a Georgia-coast conservation nonprofit.

As is traditional, this Youth Birding Competition ended with a birds of prey program and awards banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. Four division winners in the T-shirt art contest were chosen beforehand and the art of native Georgia birds displayed at the banquet. Winning entries are posted in the “YBC T-shirt Art Contest” album at

The 2018 Youth Birding Competition is set for April 27-28.

DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section works to conserve Georgia’s rare and other animal species not legally hunted or fished for, plus native plants and natural habitats. The agency depends largely on grants, direct contributions and fundraisers such as sales and renewals of the eagle and hummingbird license plates. Visit this webpage for details, or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

TERN ( also provides key support for nongame conservation in Georgia.


High school division
1. Chaotic Kestrels (160 species), and overall competition winner
2. Wood Thrushes (141 species)
3. Pi-ed-billed Grebes (127 species)

Middle school division
1. Ugly Ducklings (78 species)
2. Beautiful Bluebirds (67 species)
3. Redhawk 2 (62 species)

Elementary school division
1. Amazing Anhingas (71 species)
2. Bird Nerds (52 species)
3. Macaw (49 species)

Primary school division
1. Bufford Bluejays (48 species)

Fundraising (division leaders)
1. Chaotic Kestrels, high school division and overall top fundraiser, raising $983.
2. Bufford Bluebirds, $30 – elementary division
3. Bufford Bluejays, $30 – primary division
Fundraising for conservation is voluntary.

Top rookie teams (first-year teams)
Elementary – Macaw (49 species)
Middle school – Redhawk 2 (62)
High school – Pi-ed-billed Grebes (127)

Mentor Award
Tom Painting, Pi-ed-billed Grebes

2017 Youth Birding T-shirt Art Results

Four budding bird artists recently were selected as T-shirt Art Contest winners in Georgia’s 12th annual Youth Birding Competition, the state Department of Natural Resources announced today.

A blue jay drawing by Ava Wang, a 10th-grader at SKA Academy in Duluth, led all 248 contest entries. As grand-prize winner, the 16-year-old received a $100 Michaels gift card and will have her artwork featured on T-shirts at the Youth Birding Competition at the end of this month.

Art contest coordinator Linda May praised participants and stressed that the focus “isn’t just about art.”“It’s about teaching kids to observe and connect with nature,” said May, environmental outreach coordinator for the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.

“Birds are a great focus since they’re beautiful, fun to watch and easy to find.”

To encourage stewardship, awareness and appreciation of wildlife and their habitats are essential. This contest helps form that foundation through art. The T-shirt Art Contest is part of the Youth Birding Competition, an annual event in which teams of children and teens try to find as many bird species as possible throughout Georgia in 24 hours.

This year, the free bird-a-thon runs from 5 p.m. April 29 to 5 p.m. April 30, ending in a banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. Registration for the birding competition closed March 31.Ava Wang’s art entry also placed first in the High School division. Other division art winners included:

  • Primary (pre-K through second grade): northern cardinal by Margaret Wang, 7, of Duluth.  

  • Elementary (third-fifth grade): barn owl by Richard Lin, 10, of Duluth.  

  • Middle School (sixth-eighth grade): blue jay by Sarah Tan, 13, of Duluth.    

All division winners this year are students at SKA Academy of Art & Design, a testament to the school’s training and the students’ talent. Contest submissions represented 53 public, private and home schools statewide. Entries were judged by a three-person panel including a DNR biologist, an artist and a graphic designer. In this “blind” process, judges do not see a participant’s school or hometown.

Entries will be displayed and division winners honored during the awards banquet April 30 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. Photos are posted at in the “YBC T-shirt Art Contest” album.

The birding competition and T-shirt Art Contest are sponsored by DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, The Environmental Resources Network Inc. or TERN – friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section – and others including the Georgia Ornithological Society and Atlanta Audubon Society.


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.