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DNR asks Young birders, artists to compete
2017 Youth Birding Competition team Amazing Anhingas in the field Linda May DNRweb
Children look for birds during a recent competition. - photo by DNR photo

It’s time for young birders to hone their bird-identifying skills to prepare for the annual Georgia Youth Birding Competition, set for April 27–28.

Registration is open and online at

This free competition for all youth — whether new to birding or not — has been connecting young Georgians with the outdoors for 13 years. At the start in 2005, coordinator Tim Keyes of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and other organizers simply hoped to make it through one year.

Since, the competition has helped develop an interest in birds and wildlife, spurring competitors to study ecology and natural resources management in college. Some former birding novices are now veterans and mentoring younger birders. As a voluntary part of the competition, teams also have raised more than $20,000 for conservation.

Keyes, a wildlife biologist with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, said he is thrilled at the impact.

On April 27, the 24-hour statewide birdathon for teams varying in ages from kindergartners to high school seniors returns. Register by March 31.

The competition and an accompanying T-shirt Art Contest are sponsored by DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, The Environmental Resources Network — friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section — and others including the Georgia Ornithological Society and the Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies. A banquet and awards ceremony will be on April 28 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. The dinner also features a live animal presentation.

Teams register in one of four age divisions and compete against other groups their age. Participants can also volunteer to raise money for conservation organizations.

The competition is for youth of all skill levels. Those new to birding can take advantage of mentoring opportunities offered through the competition.

The contest starts at 5 p.m. April 27, and ends at 5 p.m. April 28. Groups may use as much or as little of that time to count as many birds as possible throughout Georgia.

Although teams can start birding anywhere in the state, they must turn in their checklists at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center by 5 p.m. that Saturday. While judges examine and score checklists, participants are treated to an animal show followed by an awards banquets.

The T-shirt Art Contest’s deadline is March 15.

There is no charge for either contest, aside from the optional cost of overnight lodging at Charlie Elliott.

For details about the competition, including registering online, visit Tim Keyes can be reached at 912-262-3191 or For information on the T-shirt contest, visit or contact coordinator Linda May at 706-557-3226 or

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