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Around the Lab

A Winning Spring

article spread
by Pat Leonard
Photograph by Tim Gallagher

The Cornell Lab trophy shelf is sagging a bit following a winning spring for our three competitive birding teams. Their successes also meant a big win for the birds. Thanks to your support, our teams raised more than $200,000 for the Lab’s conservation programs as well as for undergraduate research and training.

The streak began on April 22. The six members of Team Sapsucker packed their scopes and hopes and headed to Texas for what turned out to be a successful bid to break the national record for the number of bird species found in 24 hours. The team recorded 264 species, topping the previous record of 261. Their adventure began at midnight with a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and a Barred Owl tallied near San Antonio’s famed Riverwalk. The Sapsuckers surpassed the previous record with the call of a Clapper Rail after nightfall. Virginia and Black rails soon followed to cap a fast and furious day of birding.

Texas birders were one of the key elements to the team’s success, generously sharing their tips and favorite spots in one of the birdiest states.

The Cornell Lab’s student team, the Redheads, pulled a three-peat at the World Series of Birding held on May 14 in New Jersey, winning the Cape May County division for the third year in a row with a total this time of 163 species. One notable highlight was sighting a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, a bird of the open ocean that ventured just close enough to land for the Redheads to get it in their scopes. Overcast, rainy weather and the departure of hoped-for migrants made this year’s competition especially tough.

The Lab also fielded a team in the Carbon-Footprint category at the World Series. The Anti-Petrels racked up more than 100 miles on foot and by bicycle, tallying 144 bird species to win the division for the second year in a row. Amazingly enough they had no flat tires—but a few ticks did latch on for the ride and there were some frustrating stakeouts for birds seen and heard during scouting that never let out a peep on the Big Day itself.

Congratulations to all of our intrepid birders and sincere thanks to all their supporters. You make it possible for the Cornell Lab to continue its conservation work. To learn more about our teams and the birds on their checklists, visit our website.

Living Bird Magazine

Summer 2011

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