RYE — NH Audubon’s “Twitchers in the Rye” will take part in the Superbowl of Birding on Jan. 19.
The Superbowl is a competition that takes place in January but has nothing to do with football. It involves looking for as many bird species as possible in 12 hours and is run by Massachusetts Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center. Teams can compete in Essex County, Massachusetts, and/or Rockingham County.
After doing 10 years in Rye and winning the Townie Award last year, the team is thinking of trying something different – Hampton.
“We wanted to show people how many birds can be seen in just one town, and Rye is a great place,” said Twitchers team captain Becky Suomala, “but it’s time to see how another town stacks up to Rye.” This will necessitate a change in the team name to “Twitchers out of the Rye.”
Twitchers typically refer to people who travel long distances to see a rare bird that is ticked, or counted on a list.
There were all kinds of great birds in Rye in December including a yellow-breasted chat and a white pelican. If those birds stay around, the team may be tempted to revert to their old haunts. Suomala has until Jan. 18 to make an official declaration.
Team members will be scouting the area for the best birding spots in Hampton before the competition. Rare species are worth more points than common ones, and teams are required to call in and report the 5-point birds so that sightings can be shared with other teams. The first team to find a “5-pointer” gets bonus points.
The Twitchers also raise money to support NH Audubon and accept pledges to support New Hampshire Bird Records and NH eBird. Help spur the Twitchers on by pledging an amount per species or per point – and support the collection of bird data for conservation at the same time.
“When the mercury drops and the winds blow, pledges help keep us going – knowing each species or point will help build contributions for conservation,” Suomala said.
Pledge online at www.nhbirdrecords.org (and read the results from previous years) or email Suomala at email@example.com or call (603) 224-9909 ext. 309.
And if you see a car full of four bundled figures stop suddenly, and peer out the window with binoculars, don’t be alarmed. They are likely the Twitchers or another team of birders competing in this annual birding competition.
For more about the NH Audubon, visit www.nhaudubon.org.