Calling all birders!
The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society are pleased to announce the 2012 Meadowlands Big Year competition.
The goal is to see as many different bird species as possible in the 14 towns of the Meadowlands District over the course of 2012 — and also to have fun birding.
The idea is to promote birding in the Meadowlands, and to give area birders a competition that does not require as much travel (and gasoline consumption) as, say, a New Jersey Big Year.
To make this as fair as possible, we will have two divisions: Meadowlands residents and non-Meadowlands residents.
More details follow.
The towns of the Meadowlands District are Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Little Ferry, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, North Arlington, Ridgefield, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Teterboro, Jersey City, Kearny, North Bergen and Secaucus. Either you or the bird must be in one of these towns when the bird must be seen.
The person in each division who records the most birds will win a signed copy of the upcoming coffee-table book "The Nature of the Meadowlands" (scheduled for publication later this year), two free two-hour Eco-cruises on the Hackensack River, and a one-year membership in the Meadowlands Environment Center, which offers a wide range of wonderful programs year-round.
What's more, the Bergen County Audubon Society will donate $1 in native plants to a Meadowlands Commission park or natural area for every species the overall winner records. If he or she sees 140 species, for example, BCAS will donate $140 in his or her name.
But wait — there's more. NJMC Naturalist Mike Newhouse is doing his own Meadowlands big year, and any birder does not win the grand prize but who tallies more species than Mike will also win NJMC pontoon-boat cruises for two.
To ensure that no birders have long-term advantage as the contest moves forward in years to come, we'll likely have a rule that no birder can win two years in a row. What do you think? Again, the goal is to promote birding in the Meadowlands, and for birders to have fun.
To that end, we'd love you to e-mail us and let us know if you'd like to enter the contest, and to update us at the end of every month with your tally so far.
This is the first year of the contest, and we are open to suggestions to improve it. Please e-mail Jim Wright [jim.wright (at) njmeadowlands.gov] with your ideas.