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March Birding Madness Month – results

How many birds will you find in March?
Big Green March Birding Madness Month results are here.

The results of our March challenge have been tabulated! Big Green March Birding Madness Month was intended to be a slightly wacky motivational jump start to spring birding in keeping with BPQ’s 100th anniversary theme. All you had to do was try to find as many of the 100 species of birds on the special checklist according to the Canada Goes Birding Challenge’s  “green” birding rules. While 100 birds at this time of year in Quebec may seem ambitious, or highly optimistic depending on your point of view, and the “green rules” at first glance might have appeared restrictive, in the end it was the weather that was possibly the most challenging. So much for spring birding! It was cold and windy to the bitter end!

Nevertheless, despite what felt like a month of snow, icy winds and more snow, some hardy souls did manage to peck away at the list anyway. While it started out with birds like Snowy Owls, Snow buntings and Horned larks, as the month wore on some river areas began to thaw ever so slightly and produced the waterfowl that eventually helped fluff out the species counts a little more.

The “green” part of the challenge wasn’t quite as restrictive as some might have initially thought either. Essentially, it made you carefully consider your location of choice. Would at least an hour spent there be worthwhile? Instead of driving from location to location until something looked promising or simply scouting the countryside by car, the challenge was to survey a location on foot, perhaps on snowshoes. But given the conditions, definitely no canoes or bicycles would have helped for this particular challenge!

So congratulations to all who made the effort! The following made the most progress on species seen or heard of the 100 target birds on the checklist. Quite likely they also questioned their sanity at times as they were out looking for birds while most everyone else they knew was somewhere warm and cozy!

Big Green March Birding Madness Month – Top 3 Results

Highest Individual Score – 48 species – Barbara MacDuff

Highest Group Score – 44 species – Barbara MacDuff, Gay McDougall Gruner, Connie Morgenstern, Claude Cloutier 

Second Place Individual Score – 41 species –  Gay MacDougal Gruner

Third Place Individual Score – 34 species  – **Tie**  Richard Gregson, Zofia Laubitz

 The total number of species observed overall was 62

So what’s next?

With the month of April now well underway and nicer weather seemingly here to stay, don’t forget to check out this month’s 100-points Challenge. You’ll find 35 fun ways to get birding for spring and it’s guaranteed easier than the last one! Or, if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, check out the Canada Goes Birding Challenge. Happy Birding!

Spring Birding: 35 fun ways to get out birding for April

The American Woodcock. One of the birds to find as part of the April 100-Points challenge. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Spring Birding: 35 fun ways to get out birding for April

We have a new challenge to get your April birding underway and help you savor the sights and sounds of spring! Do any of the following to collect a maximum of 100 points for the month. You can do more for fun of course!

These are also great activities to share your love of nature with kids. Try to do some of the suggested activities the next time you are out on a walk, at the park or wherever you happen to be. No kids? No problem. Just ask a friend or relative with kids to come along on your next birding excursion!

If you decide to take part in this challenge, feel free to tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.

Take BPQ’s April 100-Points Challenge

Download a PDF version of the challenge to track your progress.

1.    Birds with crests – 5 points for each species observed and identified.
For some videos see this previous blog post (not all the birds mentioned in the post can be found in Quebec).

2.     Birds with a long  tail – 5 points for each species observed and identified.
Read more about bird tails and their form and function in this post.

3.     Observe and identify a bird eating berries – 5 points for each species.
Read more fun facts about birds and berries in this blog post.

4.     Find an American Woodcock – 20 points.
Learn about their habitat and where to find them, you can check eBird for sightings to help you. If you’re wondering what’s so special about this bird, please see this previous post about the amazing Woodcock.

5.     Observe a Woodcock “dance” – 20 pts
See above blog post link in #4.

6.     Declare a local “patch” – 20 pts.
Visit it at least 1x per week (4 x during April) Here’s an eBird article all about local patches.

7.     Sign up for the Bird Protection Quebec’s Canada goes Birding challenge – 15 points

8.     Keep a birding journal, noting weather conditions along with your bird sightings – 10 points.
Finally a use for that stack of pretty leather covered note books that are “too nice to write in” that you’ve been stashing away! Or if you prefer a more techie method, keep notes on your computer or use a phone app for this. It’s lots of fun to track year to year bird sightings for your backyard, cottage or a vacation location you visit often.

9.     Make a bird friendly garden plan for your yard – 20 pts.
For inspiration see our Bird Friendly Gardening web page  or check out the info on the Gardening with Wildlife blog .

10.   Clean your bird feeders – 10 points.
Help keep your feathered friends healthy!

11.   Find & clean your hummingbird feeder to get ready for hummer season – 10 points.

12.   Buy a hummingbird feeder if you don’t have one and plan where to hang it15 points.

13.   Volunteer to set up a feeder for someone else or at a senior’s residence etc.20 points.
Great alternative idea if you live in an apartment or somewhere where you can’t have your own feeders.

14.   Introduce a friend to birding – 15 points.
If you invite them along on a field trip,  BPQ will do the rest!

15.   Take a kid birding15 points.
Spread your love of nature to the next generation!

16.   Build a bird feeder or bird house15 points.
You’ll find lots of great ideas and plans here.

17.   Learn to identify the songs and calls of 2 new bird species 20 points.
To help sharpen your skills visit  www.natureinstruct.org .

18.   Observe an early arriving Warbler species – 5 points each species.

19.   Submit at least one checklist to eBird – 5 points each.

20.   Attend a BPQ field trip – 5 points for each trip.

21.   If you are already a member of BPQ – 10 points

22.   Become a new member in April – 10 points. Information on membership here.

23.   Find and identify a Song Sparrow  – 10 points.
The bird that is, not the BPQ newsletter! But feel free to read the back issues!

24.   Find and identify an American Tree Sparrow – 10 points.
Wish it bon voyage !

25.   Review the BPQ checklist to identify any potential “lifers.”5 points for each species.

26.   Find and identify a thrush other than a robin10 points.

27.   Find and identify a wren10 points.

28.   Find and identify a duck that nests in a tree – 10 points.

29.   Find a wading bird- 10 points.

30.   Find and identify a flycatcher – 10 points.

31.   Observe and identify a falcon – 10 points.

32.   Observe and identify a Buteo- 10 points.

33.   Find and identify a Plover  – 10 points.

34.   Find and identify four Woodpecker species – 20 points.

35.   Observe and identify a Vulture – 10 points.

 

Big Green March Birding Madness Month: Time’s up!

Our final bird of the day. A Black-capped Chickadee with a white tail. A condition called Leucism. (photo: Connie Morgenstern)

Big Green March Birding Madness Month: Time’s up!

It’s over. Big Green March Birding Madness Month is over. Unless maybe you’re holding out for an owl – you technically still have ’till midnight! so go for it! In the words of Kermit the Frog, “it’s hard being green!” It’s  seems way easier to hop in and out of a car to chase the birds you’re after, so if you’ve attempted the 100 bird checklist of March’s ‘Green Birding’  challenge, give yourself a huge pat on the back! And as if the “green” aspect wasn’t challenging enough, who knew that a month that was supposed to be the herald of spring would be so un-spring-like?

Yet we birded despite the snow storms and windy days that featured temperatures of -20 and -30 degrees C. I teamed up with several other birders and on our first outing at the very beginning of the month we managed a Snowy Owl, a Horned Lark, and several flocks of Snow and Canada Geese. If geese day dream while they fly, then the ones who flew over us surely questioned their decision to come back north as they braved the miserable winds aloft that were likely even more fierce than those we had on the ground below. We froze our butts off for 4 species and walked the road for an hour out in the boonies with a fleece blanket to fend off the wind chill. Well for the sake of full disclosure, I was the only one with the blanket over my coat, but for good reason!

Today, the final day of this mad challenge, we once again encountered biting winds that moved in ahead of still another (albeit supposedly mild) snow storm forecast for this afternoon. So much for spring! If you’re wondering, we only got one more species – a Red-shouldered Hawk – to add to the list despite our two hours of wandering about.

Perhaps a fitting end to a more snowy than anticipated month, our last bird today, while not a new species, was a white tailed, Black-capped Chickadee. Dare I take some license and nickname it a Snowy-tailed Chickadee? This abnormality is called leucism, a condition caused by a lack of the cells that produce melanin pigment. This can lead to a bird being completely white or just partially so like the Chickadee in the photo above. However, it can also be caused by an injury such as from a predator and will grow out with the next molt. But it goes to show you, there’s always something interesting to discover while you are out birding. You just never know what surprises may come your way!

I hope your green adventures were worthwhile, made this month a little more interesting  and that you discovered some interesting surprises along the way too. You can report your March Madness results no later than April 6 th, 2017 using this online form The results will be posted by April 14th, 2017.

In the meantime, stay tuned for another challenge coming your way for April…

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