Connecticut Audbon Society

Migration Madness! Connecticut Audubon’s Inaugural Bird-a-thon. May 18-20, 2018


A weekend of birding for a year’s worth of conservation!

For three days, birders of all skill levels will engage in a fun and friendly competition to find and count birds throughout Connecticut.

Plus more than 30 great programs at our Centers, for kids and adults.

Timed for the peak of bird migration!

Scroll to learn more or click these links:
Bird-a-thon Prizes

Make a Pledge/Register for the Bird-a-thon

Learn more about the Bird-a-thon

Our experts propose a Center-by-Center Bird-a-thon strategy

Patrick Comin’s bird-by-bird strategy

Conservation projects your pledge will support

Migration Madness complete schedule

Bird-a-thon rules


If you’re into birds, this is the most fun you’ll have this May!

Migration Madness Schedule

We’ve listed programs and events by date and by location (scroll down) … If you are participating in the Bird-a-thon competition, look for events in the by-date schedule labeled Great for Bird-a-thon participants!

Thursday, May 17

5 p.m. — “Creation of a Genius: Roger Tory Peterson,” a lecture by Dr. Twan Leenders, at the Lyme Art Association. Part of the Connecticut River Estuary Lecture Series. Register here.

Friday, May 18

Midnight – For the most intrepid birders, the Bird-a-thon starts now! Owls and Common Nighthawk; rails, American Bittern and other secretive marsh birds; birds that sing at night or before dawn, such as Grasshopper Sparrow, Hermit Thrush and Wood Thrush.
8 a.m. – Bird walk at White Sands beach in Old Lyme, hosted by the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center.
NEW! 10:30 a.m. – Bird walk at the Connecticut College Arboretum, New London, led by the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center. Great for Bird-a-thon participants!
3 p.m. – Beginning Bird Walk, Coastal Center at Milford Point. Great for Bird-a-thon participants! Register here!
5 p.m. – Bird walk at the Bafflin Preserve, at the Center at Pomfret. Great for Bird-a-thon participants!
6:30 p.m.The Big Year screening at the Center at Glastonbury. Register here!
6:30 p.m. – Silent Hunters of the Night. Our magnificent owl ambassadors show off their adaptations for night hunting. Center at Fairfield. Register here!
7 p.m. — The Big Year screening, the Center at Pomfret.

Saturday, May 19

6 a.m.3 p.m. – “90-Bird Day” led by Andy Rzeznikiewicz at the Center at Pomfret. An unforgettable day of Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, American Kestrels, warblers galore, and plenty of other species! Registration required, please call 860-928-4948. Great for Bird-a-thon participants!
7 a.m. – Bird walk at Great Meadows, organized by the Center at Glastonbury. Led by Larry Lunden and Michelle Eckman. Great for Bird-a-thon participants!



Our Experts Recommend These Places as Part of Your Bird-a-thon Strategy

We hope you’re planning to participate in our Migration Madness Bird-a-thon. Our Centers and their surrounding sanctuaries are all great places to go.

We asked the experts on our staff and Board to outline what you might look for. Each of the Centers or areas below have bird walks scheduled for May 18 or 19.

Click here to see what Patrick Comins, Milan Bull, Andy Griswold, Andy Rzeznikiewicz, and Mike Aurelia recommend.


Bird-by-Bird: Patrick Comins’s guide to a great Bird-a-thon

May 10, 2018

by Patrick Comins
Executive Director
Warblers and other spring migrants are moving through now and it is just about the best time of year to get out and experience the nature of Connecticut.

This year we are trying something new, our Migration Madness Big Weekend Bird Challenge. In addition to the more than 30 events around the state at our centers and other facilities, we are hosting a competition – a Bird-a-thon, our first ever – to see who can find the most birds in Connecticut over the course of a three-day weekend, as well as other categories.

Register here for the Bird-a-thon!

I thought I would do a special edition of Bird Finder to cover some birds that will be possible to find, but can easily be missed even with fairly intensive efforts (widespread birds and real rarities not included). It is likely that more than 200 species will be in Connecticut on May 18-20, but any one person getting to 200 is quite a challenge.


Aside from a few regulars like American Black Duck, Mallard and Canada Goose, waterfowl can be tricky to find in mid-May, even some of our nesting species. We do often host some stragglers along the coast or inland lakes though. It is worthwhile checking eBird https://ebird.org/ or the CTBirds listserve http://lists.ctbirding.org/pipermail/ctbirds_lists.ctbirding.org/ to see if there are reports of unusual species. Some species that are possible and worth a little extra effort include:

Brant, check coastal locations such as Milford Point, Long Beach in Stratford or Stratford Point.

Wood Duck. Hesseky Meadows Pond off Transylvania Road in Woodbury or Station 43 off Vibert Road in South Windsor are prime locations. You can sometimes find them at East Rock Park in New Haven as well.

Gadwall. Check the Stratford Great Meadows Unit of the Stewart B. McKinney Refuge off Long Beach Blvd. or the Birdseye Boat Launch in Stratford.

Common Eider are now found in Connecticut year-round, but you have to go to the far eastern shore. Harkness Memorial State Park or any of the rocky shores along the eastern shore are worth a check.

For LOTS more, click this link …


Bird-a-thon Prizes!

This Magnolia Warbler photo, taken by Donna Rae Caporaso, won the first place prize in our Migration Madness 2018 contest.

Here are the prize winners for our inaugural Bird-a-thon!

Most species for a Young Birder (under 18 years old)

  • First prize: Tony Belejack (age 10, 32 species). Prize: Vortex Binoculars.
  • Second prize: Ari Leedom (age 15, 31 species). Prize: A framed bird print by artist Patrick Lynch

Most Species for a team in 24 hours

  • 70, by the Andover team (Melanie Smedley, Rose Hiskes, Ellie Penn). Prize: Up to 4 tickets to an EcoTravel Swallow Spectacular Cruise on the Connecticut River in September.

Most Species for an individual in 24 Hours

No participants submitted entries in this category

  • First prize: $50 gift certificate to Connecticut Audubon’s nature stores
  • Second prize: Signed copy of The Evolution of Beauty, by Richard Prum, chosen by the NY Times as one of the 10 best books of 2017.

Most Species all weekend for an individual birder

  • First prize: Stefan Martin (149). Prize: Carved decoy of a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, by Keith Mueller (both decorative and functional, it’s been used to attract storm-petrels on pelagic trips)
  • Second prize: Aaron Bourque (134). Prize: Framed bird print by artist Patrick Lynch
  • Third prize: Donna Rae Caporaso (84). Prize: A Field Guide to Long Island Sound, written and illustrated by Patrick Lynch

Best Photo

  • First place: Donna Rae Caporaso, Magnolia Warbler. A $50 gift certificate to Connecticut Audubon’s nature stores, and the winning photo featured on Connecticut Audubon’s website and newsletter.
  • Second place: Brock Graham, Female Common Yellowthroat. A $25 gift certificate to Connecticut Audubon’s nature stores
  • Third place: Aaron Bourque, Baltimore Oriole. A copy of John James Audubon, The Nature of the American Woodsman.

Most ID Photos taken all weekend

  • First prize: Aaron Bourque, $50 gift certificate to Connecticut Audubon’s nature stores
  • Second prize: A Field Guide to Long Island Sound, by Patrick Lynch

Executive Director Patrick Comins, left, with Stefan Martin. Stefan is holding the bird decoy he won for seeing the most species during our recent Bird-a-thon. Photo by Scott Kruitbosch.

Most Money Raised by an Individual

  • First prize: Aaron Bourque, $680. Prize: A large, framed bird print by artist Patrick Lynch
  • Second prize: Melanie Smedley, $475. Prize: A signed copy of The Evolution of Beauty, by Richard Prum

Most Money Raised by a Team

  • The Andover team, $535. Prize: Private bird walk with Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins and/or Milan Bull, Connecticut Audubon’s senior director of science and conservation.

Read the Bird-a-thon rules


Learn everything about the Bird-a-thon and our exciting Migration Madness weekend!



Female Common Yellowthroat, by Brock Graham, second place.

Baltimore Oriole, by Aaron Bourque. Third place.


Register for the Bird-a-thon!

Bridget Cervero (L), and Lauren Magliola look for birds at Deer Pond Farm.

A weekend of birding for a year’s worth of conservation!

Registration for our Migration Madness Bird-a-thon is underway!

We invite birders of all skill levels to join in the fun!

Click here to register.

 Our Bird-a-thon is a fun and friendly competition to find and count birds throughout Connecticut.

You can support the Bird-a-thon by:

  • birding by yourself and collecting pledges
  • forming or joining a team and collecting pledges
  • making a pledge to someone else who is participating
  • making a direct donation via the Bird-a-thon page

When you register, you can also make your own pledge.

Pledges are based on the number of species seen over the weekend. So if you pledge $1 per bird, and the person you made your pledge to sees 50 birds, your contribution would be $50.

To gather pledges, simply ask your friends to visit the Bird-a-thon website and register.

All contributions will go toward bird conservation work throughout Connecticut!

Whether you participate for one day or three days, find 10 birds or 110 birds, please join the fun!

Register here! (migrationmadness.ctaudubon.org)

Our schedule of events and programs for the Migration Madness weekend now includes eight bird walks in all parts of the state, for all skill levels.

These are a great way to get out in the field with our experts and check off a bunch of species!

Scroll through the calendar and look for events labeled in red: “Great for Bird-a-thon participants!”

You can read our official Bird-a-thon rules here.



What makes a team?

A Bird-a-thon team consists of at least 2 birders. Teams should try to stay in ear-shot of each other while birding, rather than splitting up. Team members do not have to bird together all weekend, but they are encouraged to spend at least part of the weekend together. Team captains can bird alone if no one else on the team is available, but we support teamwork!

Can I bird with people who aren’t on my team?

Of course! We understand that birders of all levels of experience have signed up, and we encourage novice birders to bird with others, even if they aren’t registered as a team. Check out the bird walks at our centers over the course of the weekend! Each one is led by an experienced birder from our staff.

How do I submit my bird list?

At the end of the weekend, we ask that everyone fill out an online survey that lists every bird in Connecticut. You’ll have until midnight on Monday to submit your lists, so that our committee has time to review. If you’re participating in our photo challenge, you can add a file to our Bird-a-thon Dropbox with your name, and our committee will review that as well.

Do I have to bird all weekend?

The best part of Bird-a-thon is that you can bird wherever and however you want. We know some people will want to bird all weekend (like our executive director, Patrick Comins!) but others will want to participate in a bird walk, or only bird on Saturday. We just want you to get outside and enjoy the peak migration weekend of spring 2018!

Which projects will my pledge support?

When you participate and make a Bird-a-thon pledge, your contribution will help support:

  • Osprey Nation, our citizen science project to track the nesting success of the state’s Ospreys.
  • The Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, a partnership to protect vulnerable Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, and other species.
  • Shrubland habitat restoration that provides nesting areas for Blue-winged Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhees, and other birds at:
    • Smith Richardson Preserve in Westport
    • Bafflin Preserve in Pomfret
    • Chaney Preserve in Montville
  • IBA monitoring at the Coastal Center at Milford Point, to ensure the protection of birds at this busy coastal area.
  • Connecticut Audubon’s involvement in the Connecticut Bird Atlas, the biggest and most important bird research project ever in Connecticut.

Thanks for your generosity!





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