The Helmut Grünberg Yukon Birdathon is an annual birdwatching event that doubles as a fundraiser for the Yukon Bird Club. It was renamed in 2015 to honour our long-time friend and pillar of the Yukon birding community, Helmut Grünberg, who passed away in February 2015. Read the primer for more information about this exciting 24 hours of fun that comes around every year on the last weekend of May!
33nd Annual Yukon Birdathon 2018 !!
Friday-Saturday May 25-26 (5pm to 5pm). All are welcome!
by Jenny Trapnell
2018 Birdathon Coordinator
This year’s 33rd birdathon promises to be a fun event, with friendly competition too.
The 24 hour birding blitz is a chance for new and expert birders to take time to enjoy the sounds and sights of peak bird migration in the North. It’s also a great social event.
About 300 species have been observed in Yukon, and over 200 migrate here each spring from locations as far away as South America.
The event starts 5 p.m. on Friday May 25 and ends 5 p.m. Saturday May 26. Participants can sign up sponsors who pledge donation amounts for the event, or for each species seen.
Begun as a Yukon Conservation Society fundraiser, it was co-run with the Yukon Bird Club after its founding in l996. It was renamed a few years ago in honour of the late long-time birder Helmut Grünberg.
Going back to its roots with the Yukon Conservation Society (YCS), this year’s birdathon will have teams from the Yukon Bird Club and YCS competing to see the most species and raise the most funds.
Both clubs are celebrating anniversaries this year: YBC was founded 25 years ago, and YCS 50 years ago. YBC’s new president, Shyloh van Delft, who also serves on YCS’s board, came up with the idea of teaming up for the Birdathon as a good way to recognize both groups.
If you don’t or can’t bird this year, or don’t know anyone doing the Birdathon, consider sponsoring our Feature Birder this year, Tracy Allard.
There’s a Birdathon Primer below describing the rules with reminders around ethical birding. For example, while participants may use Bird Apps to help identify a bird call or sound, using Apps to “call in” birds is not permitted. (Male birds may be distracted from their mating behaviours respond in ways that disrupt the mating season and waste valuable energy.)
YBC’s aim is to increase awareness and conservation of Yukon birds and their habitat. Funds raised support production of The Warbler, research, monitoring and education grants, and birding resources for field trips and public libraries.
I spent my first Birdathon sitting in the leafy forest along the Yukon River in Riverdale, with binoculars and a guidebook, watching birds and trying to identify them. It took an hour to identify one species – A Western Wood Peewee – but it was relaxing and enjoyable to spend all day outside with nature. My tally for the day: maybe 25. The winning tally: over 100!
Prize categories include youngest birder, oldest birder, most bird species seen by a family (2+ members), most seen by a youth, most seen by an Enviro-Birder (no driving). This year’s teams from YBC and YCS will have fun seeing who out-birds whom.
But remember, the birdathon is also a social event with just a slight competitive edge. Bird species tallies will be announced and prize winners will be awarded at the event’s closing pot-luck BBQ held at Robert Service Campground. So mark it on your calendars and support the Helmut Grünberg Yukon Birdathon. Do it for a change (or lots of change)… Everyone welcome!