The rules are simple, and the first prizes are similar to last year — pontoon boat rides for two, Meadowlands Environment Center annual membership for two, and a nifty Meadowlands coffee-table book.
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 birder with the highest total will have a donation made in his name for native plants in the Meadowlands — courtesy of the Bergen Country Audubon Society. (For 2012, BCAS donated $211!)
To ensure a level playing field, all birds must be seen in areas open to the public, or on guided walks or banding events in such places as Harrier Meadow or the back of the Kingsland Landfill.
It's not too late to get started. Sunday's Mill Creek Marsh Walk at 10 a.m. is a great way to begin. We''ll even share a list of birds seen on the walk on eBird.org, and you can delete the birds you did not see.
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 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 Jersey City waterfront along the Hudson is a tad too far afield to be included — sorry — but we will allow Jersey City parks along the Hackensack River).
As was mentioned last year, to ensure that no birders have a long-term advantage as the contest moves forward, no birder can win two years in a row. (Sorry, Chris, Doug, and Ramon!)
(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 second 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 — and your totals, marked "Big Year" in the subject field.
If you aren't using eBird to record your Meadowlands sightings, what are you waiting for? A post about eBird is here.