Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Smithsonian DC Big Day on May 3

This week, I received an announcement of a DC Big Day competition, to occur on Saturday, May 3. The goal of the event is to raise money for the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and enjoy watching DC's avifauna. The Smithsonian will field a team, and they are asking other birders to organize competing teams.

I have done DC big days before, once by myself (using Metro), and once with the other "City Flickers," Mike and Denise. On the latter occasion, we found 101 species, including a Yellow-crowned Night Heron at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Bobolinks at Kenilworth Park, and American Woodcock at Rock Creek Park. Both times, the events were a lot of fun, though very tiring. Unfortunately I will not be doing it this year because of my relocation.

The text of the announcement follows.


The Smithsonian Ornithology group would like to invite birders in the Greater DC metropolitan area to take part in a ‘Big Day’ count with us on May 3. We are organizing this count as a friendly competition to promote research and education on birds at the Smithsonian and to spend a fun day birding in Washington DC. Individual teams of two to four birders of all skill levels are welcome to participate for as much of the day as they wish. The event will take place all day on May 3, 2008 and participants are encouraged to limit their efforts to the boundaries of the District. However, if you already have plans for a count in Virginia or Maryland, feel free to join us with your results at a free breakfast on Sunday May 4. A group of 4 birders from the Smithsonian and USGS completed a trial run in early May last year and managed 122 species! Some of the highlights were Wild Turkey, Bobwhite Quail, 22 species of warbler, Bobolink, Willow Flycatcher, and others. We think this would be a great way for some of you who may not think of DC as a birding hot spot to spend a day exploring the nations capitol.

Here is what the Smithsonian can assist with:

  • Scouts will be out checking on birding hotspots on days leading up to the event and will be happy to share their findings.
  • Help with your birding itinerary (what locations to visit and when to do it)
  • The event will be free to all participants
  • The Smithsonian will be trying to raise money for research fellowships and grants through pledges made to the Smithsonian Ornithology Big Day website (
  • On Sunday May 4, we will have a ‘Tally Rally’ breakfast to compare results
For more information or to sign up for the event please contact:

Gregory Gough
Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center