For release: May 5, 2011

Cornell Student Team Defends Title
at the World Series of Birding 
Goal is to ID most species in 24 hours for undergraduate fundraiser

The 2011 Redheads honing their skills ahead of time. (L-R): Hope Batcheller, Andy Johnson, Scott Haber, and Jay McGowan. Photo by Jay McGowan.

Ithaca, NYFresh from final exams, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s student birding team is ready to cut loose on Saturday, May 14, at the 28th annual World Series of Birding in New Jersey. The Redheads (named for Cornell “Big Red” sports team—and a duck species called a Redhead) are two-time champions in the Cape May County division of the competition. Last year’s team identified 175 species. During the World Series, teams converge from across the country to raise funds for bird conservation by collecting pledges for each species tallied by sight or sound during the midnight-to-midnight contest. 

Redhead member and freshman Andy Johnson has been to the World Series of Birding once before but this is his first attempt as part of the Cornell team. “This is really exciting,” said Johnson, “being able to join a group of fantastic birders for a whirlwind of migrants and sleep deprivation, all while raising money for undergraduate research and training.”

Newcomer Hope Batcheller said, “I've enjoyed the World Series in the past, and am ecstatic to join the Redheads this year. The combination of raising money for research and conservation and 24 hours of bird-induced hyperactivity puts this day among the best birding events, and I look forward to whatever adventures lie ahead.”

Veteran Redhead Jay McGowan is this year’s captain and brings experience from five previous World Series to put the team through its paces. “You can never be sure what you’ll find,” said McGowan. “There’s always the risk that a species you’ve seen for the past few days will decide to migrate on the day of the competition, or the weather won’t cooperate. But the unknowns are part of what make this so much fun!”

“I'm very much looking forward to just being in Cape May in the spring,” said Redhead Scott Haber, a returning member of the very first Redhead team in 2007. “Birding in this part of New Jersey is a phenomenal experience whether or not you're participating in the World Series!”

The Cornell Lab is also fielding a carbon-neutral team, the Anti-Petrels. The Anti-Petrels do their birding by bicycle and last year won the Carbon Footprint division with 150 species. 

To learn more about the Redheads and the Anti-Petrels and make a pledge, visit


Note: The members of the 2011 Redheads are Jay McGowan, Andy Johnson, Hope Batcheller, and Scott Haber. The members of the Anti-Petrels are Cornell Lab employees France Dewaghe, Charles Eldermire, and Hugh Powell.

Contact: Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137,

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca NY 14850
Call toll-free (800) 843-BIRD (2473)

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