Posted: August 1, 2008, 12:00 a.m. PDT
With help from birders, ornithologists and businesses, contributions to Delmarva Ornithological Society’s second DOS Delaware Bird-A-Thon raised more than $38,000 to purchase migratory shorebird habitat and continue migratory raptor research. The purchase focuses on land that will support the Red Knot rufa subspecies, which relies heavily on the Delaware Bay coastline and has declined by more than half since the mid-1980s.
A bird-a-thon typically involves birders generating pledges per species seen or heard during a 24-hour period. The consecutive 24 hours can fall at any point within certain designated days.
Birders can chase species for 24 hours throughout Delaware or take a more relaxed approach by walking through local parks. Those unable to participate but interested in donating often can contribute online. Bill Stewart, DOS conservation chair and bird-a-thon organizer, reported that the society’s 2008 fund-raiser involved participants from 17 states, 28 businesses and seven ornithological societies for a total of more than 430 participants.
"It’s been really fun, because the support has really risen quite a bit,” Stewart said. He attributes the increased number of participants to birders’ desire to contribute to a positive effort with measurable results and their previous experiences seeing Red Knots feast on horseshoe crab eggs on the Delaware Bay shoreline during migration.
"This was always a spectacle,” Stewart said. "That spectacle no longer exists, and we’re trying to bring it back by saving that habitat.
"A lot of people across the United States and elsewhere wanted to help,” he said. "They were trying to make a difference on some level.”
With this year’s $38,000 largesse, DOS (www.dosbirds.org) will work again with The Conservation Fund (703-525-6300, www.conservationfund.org) to purchase habitat along the Delaware Bay to benefit Red Knots. That purchase will add to the seven acres of beach and marsh habitat bought with last year’s bird-a-thon funds and now managed by Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge (302-684-8419, http://primehook.fws.gov).
The bird-a-thon funds also will go toward a hawkwatch at Delaware Nature Society’s Ashland Nature Center (302-239-2334, www.delawarenaturesociety.org/ashland).
Among the event’s winners are The Friends of Red Knot, a youth conservation group that raised more than $1,000, and the youth team of Sam Watson and Andrew Wright, who identified 153 species and raised more than $650.