It's time for Birdathon 2021! Every spring, our teams venture out before dawn and spend all day, and into the night, trying to spot as many bird species as we can. But love of birds and birding isn’t the only reason we are out there. We are raising money for bird conservation! This year, your contributions will fund a scholarship for a UNCA Environmental Studies student and support BirdScape, an American Bird Conservancy project in the Colombian Andes. Many of the migratory birds that nest in western NC, such as Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warblers and others, have had precipitous drops in their populations. We feel it’s important to contribute to programs that help our summer birds on their wintering grounds in South America.
More information and a donation form can be found here. You can also donate using the "Donate" link at the bottom of this page. Be sure to select Birdathon from the drop-down menu. Thank you for your support!

For our 2021 Birdathon, BRAC will support, as we have done in the past, an American Bird Conservancy (ABC) program and give a $1,500 scholarship to a UNC Asheville Environmental Studies student. ABC's mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas, with goals to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. One of their newest programs is BirdScape, dedicated to ensuring that priority species have the habitat they require at all stages of their life cycle: breeding, wintering, and stopover on migration. Launched in 2017, the BirdScape initiative’s goal is to define large, priority landscapes throughout the Americas that support populations of migratory birds of highest conservation concern.

Check out the 2021 Birdathon flyer for more information about the specific BirdScape project that the year's donations support.

You can find out more about the American Bird Conservancy's work here: ABC Annual Reports.

Blackburnian Warbler by Will Stuart
Black-throated Blue Warbler by Will Stuart
What is a Birdathon?

Each spring, local birding teams compete to find the highest number of bird species in one day. The goal is to raise funds for bird conservation. BRAC Birdathon contributions support efforts to protect critical habitat that our local neotropical migrants utilize during the winter months.

How does it work?

A Birdathon involves teams of birders trying to see (and hear) as many species of birds as possible within a set time period. This can mean either spending the day watching feeders, walking around the local bird sanctuary, or organizing teams to scour our region for birds. Donors can sponsor a team by donating a certain dollar amount per bird or simply by donating a fixed amount. Each team generally counts between 110 and 130 species in a given day. The list of birds observed by each team is posted on the BRAC website after the teams have completed their Birdathon.

When is the Birdathon held?

As teams are trying to see as many species as possible, it's best to run the Birdathon during spring migration season and the chosen window is usually from the middle of April through the middle of May. Teams can run their Birdathon whenever they wish during this time period.

Who benefits from the fundraiser?

In 2015, you helped us raise over $6,000 to support the Cerulean Warbler Reserve in Colombia, and in 2016, we raised over $6,000 for habitat preservation and reforestation projects in Nicaragua. In addition to supporting these conservation efforts, BRAC donates $1,000 of the Birdathon proceeds to a UNC Asheville Environmental Studies student in the form of a scholarship.

For the 2016-2018 Birdathon fundraisers, Blue Ridge Audubon supported an effort by the American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society to help reforest and preserve habitat in Nicaragua—specifically the Reserva El Jaguar. You can learn more about the Reserva El Jaguar here. The primary objective of the project is to increase habitat connectivity in the highlands of the Jinotega province, which benefits Wood Thrush, Golden-winged Warbler, and other neotropical migrants.

Habitat deforestation in Nicaragua (and other Central and South American countries) poses the most significant threat to resident and migratory birds. The forested highlands of Jinotega in northern Nicaragua are becoming increasingly fragmented as agriculture, including sun-coffee production, creeps up the mountainsides. Coffee grown under shade conditions provides important habitat for many species of neotropical migrants. The Reserva El Jaguar project focuses on improving habitat connectivity in the Volcan de Yali corridor through reforestation and planting of trees on coffee plantations. Reserva El Jaguar is a private family-run farm that produces high quality, shade-grown, sustainable coffee while maintaining the integrity of over 240 acres of protected cloud forest that surround the farm. Owners George Duriaux and his wife, Liliana Chavarria, have actively monitored birds there for many years and report over 300 bird species on their land. Reserve El Jaguar was declared an important Bird Area in 2006 by BirdLife International.

Check out the 2019 Birdathon flyer for information about the American Bird Conservancy project that this year's donations support.


BRAC is proud to support these projects.