[CT Birds] Hartford Audubon's Big January Results

sffaulkner at comcast.net sffaulkner at comcast.net
Tue Mar 14 13:43:12 EDT 2017

HAS’s First “Big January” 

March 14, 2017 

For most Connecticut residents, January is a cold, blustery time to stay indoors, curl up in a warm spot, and await better weather. But for Connecticut’s birdwatching community, January offers the opportunity to seek out our winter bird species. This year the Hartford Audubon Society (HAS) offered its first “Big January” birding challenge: to identify as many species of wild birds in Hartford County as possible. The idea arose from the CT Ornithological’s longtime Connecticut January birding challenge, but was made local to just Hartford county. 

HAS was pleased with the participation in this first year of the challenge. As birder John Weeks wrote “ Big January was a brilliant idea: it gave us all a good reason to get out there and find birds in the coldest time of the year, and linking it to eBird undoubtedly kickstarted more interest in using this valuable tool of citizen science.” 

As an organization, we witnessed wonderful sharing of species sightings – from the white-fronted goose in East Hartford, to the red-breasted nuthatch and immature goshawk at Cedar Hill Cemetery, to the Iceland gull in Hartford, postings helped many birders see and enjoy a variety of rarities. As John Weeks put it, “My wife Chris and I consider that we've already won -- just by participating and finding out about many birding hotspots in the Greater Hartford area that we didn't even know existed. Besides, we benefited greatly from the advice and postings of many other Hartford-area birders, and more than a few of the hard-to-get birds we found were as much "theirs" as "ours".” 

HAS offered prizes in different age categories as well as a special challenge for school groups. Because this was our first year offering the challenge, we took an educated guess at what would be challenging but achievable species counts for Hartford. In retrospect, we may have set the bars too high! Early in the month one experienced birder commented “e ven getting to 50 could be a challenge! I figure this is our opportunity to find out where the folks in Glastonbury hide all the birds." At the end of the month, HAS President Sara Zagorski noted “ I was only in the 50's, very hard to get to 75. But it was fun to concentrate on local areas”. And our Vice President, Maggie Peretto said “It was a great effort to get to 72”. 

With the final counts in, HAS is delighted to announce the winners from this first year’s challenge. We had submissions in all the age brackets, with ties in the teen and adult groups. Special congratulations go to the Lawton family, whose children won in the youth and teen categories. Their father and Board member David Lawton commented “ Big January was great for motivating my kids to bird, not only for January... but for the entire year.” Which was, of course, the goal! 

Youth, Ages 2-10 (25 needed): 

Sebastian Lawton, age 7, 35 species 

Teens, Age 11 -17 (40 needed) 

Matthew Lawton, Age 11, 47 Species 

Isabelle Lawton, Age 13, 47 species 

Adults, Age 18 -? (75 needed) 

Bill Asteraides, 75 species 

John and Chris Weeks, 75 species 

Honorable Mention: Maggie Peretto, 72 species 

Congratulations to everyone who entered and received awards and certificates. 

--Sarah Faulkner, HAS Board Member 

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