Six teams consisting of 24 people total participated in Washtenaw Audubon Society’s annual birding challenge where teams bird any one road of their choice within Washtenaw County. While the snowfall tried to keep people indoors, birders gotta bird.

Most teams identified 38-42 species, tallying their first ones in the pre-dawn 5:30-6AM. Both Eastern Screech-Owl and Northern Saw-whet were heard by groups that chose to start out early. Strangely (or not) ½ of the groups (the Gackling-Whet-Shrikes, the JARMRs, and the Oakland Invaders) all chose the same road to canvas, Sharon Hollow. However, the winning group, named the Galloping Geezers, chose Maple, a choice that netted them many species of waterfowl on the Huron River not found by any other group. The final group, the Purple Larks, chose Bethel Church.

My group of 4 (my 3 young daughters and I) chose Gotfredson Road and we put in a solid hour of car-birding from 10-11AM. Yes, we ended in far last place with only 16 species. Yes, my daughters were disappointed in losing. But when I asked if they would have rather woken up at 5AM and put in 4 more hours in the car, they were suddenly okay with their results. As other participants told them, per hour they saw the most! They thrilled at adding Sandhill Cranes and Kestrels. They marveled at the 300+ flocks of Canada Geese in the fields. They enjoyed their hamburgers, spaghetti and mac and cheese at the Classic Cup Café at the end for the final tally. Overall, it was a very good turnout and a good chance to be outside enjoying what we love doing.

by Bryn Martin

Photograph of Maple-Foster Bridge by Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons