Manomet held its first Bird-A-Thon during the fall of 1979 to raise funds toward our then-blossoming landbird conservation and intern programs. Now, after 40 years, three name changes, over 250,000 new birds banded, and more than 40,000 visitors at our banding lab, Manomet is gearing up once again to welcome birders from all over the world to participate in our annual Bird-A-Thon this fall.
In celebration of our 40th Bird-A-Thon in 2018, we talked with our landbird conservation team—Trevor Lloyd-Evans, Director, and Evan Dalton, Lead Instructor—about Bird-A-Thon’s beginning, its evolution over the years, and what to expect this September. Before diving into Manomet’s history with this event, though, we asked them: What IS a Bird-A-Thon?
“Bird-A-Thons tap into the natural desire people have to go birdwatching,” Trevor explains. “Back in the 1950s, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds would take on adjunct staff and volunteers and participate in Bird-A-Thons as a fundraiser. The concept had gotten pretty big by the time I arrived at Manomet.”
Now adapted to several organizations, clubs, and other groups of all sizes (see: the World Series of Birding and Champions of the Flyway), a traditional Bird-A-Thon is a 24-to-48-hour period where teams of birders venture out to some of the best birding locations in their area to count as many birds as they can. Participants are encouraged to raise money—usually through per-species pledges—or donate directly to the organization or cause for which the event has been organized.
Manomet’s Bird-A-Thon began almost exactly 40 years ago through Linda Leddy, our then-Development Officer, who later became President of the organization. “Linda really pushed for Bird-A-Thon at the time,” Trevor remarks. “The first one wasn’t as geographically spread out as today’s event; though we did go through a phase where we decided we should try to expand.”