ILLINOIS BIRDING BLITZ

Birding Blitz 2022

Join us on the monthly Illinois Birding Blitz every second Sunday of the month!

What is a Birding Blitz?

A Birding Blitz is based on the idea of a BioBlitz, which was originally used by US National Park authorities to describe a biodiversity census in Washington DC that was conducted with the help of the general public in 1996.

The great thing about a BioBlitz is that it relies on the help of the public to get a much broader and more comprehensive species census than otherwise possible. And in contrast to a BioBlitz (which records all living species in a specific area), a Birding Blitz is focused specifically on birds.

The best part of this is that in addition to providing valuable information about the Illinois bird population, the Illinois Birding Blitz is intended to encourage more people to become interested in birding and nature conservation.

In fact, we like to say that increasing your enjoyment of birding is the most important task on the day of the Birding Blitz.

Traditionally, Birding Blitzes are held in a specific location, but we decided to do a state-wide Illinois Birding Blitz instead, in close cooperation with the Illinois Audubon Society.

You can join us on the second Sunday of every month, and record as many birds as possible within 24 hours.

Can you participate in a Birding Blitz if you’ve never birded before?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, we strongly encourage birding novices to join the Birding Blitz, as this is a great opportunity to learn more about birds and birding. If you have any questions about how to proceed, just drop us an email, or contact us on live chat on the day of the Blitz.

Birding at wetlands
Wetlands are some of the best areas for birding

A key goal of the Birding Blitz is to celebrate the beauty of birds, and to strengthen our connection with nature. And anybody can achieve this no matter what their level of birding experience.

How do you identify birds on a Birding Blitz?

The best way to identify birds (either in your backyard or in your neighborhood), is to use a bird identification app on your smartphone. A great app for this is the free Merlin Bird ID app.

After you download the app on your smartphone, you can use it to identify any given bird by answering 5 questions that will help the app to narrow it down to a handful of species to choose from. And if you manage to get a photo of the bird, the app can also use the photo to identify the species.

But if you prefer, you can also use a traditional bird identification guide, and look up the species in there to identify it. Some people just prefer the feeling of leafing through a physical book than clicking around an app.

Finally, you can also use bird sounds to identify birds, and a great app to help you with that is the free Song Sleath app. Just record the bird sounds on your phone, and then upload them to the app.

Where can you do a Birding Blitz?

In principle, you can do a Birding Blitz anywhere there are birds. You can choose to do it at a nearby lake or swampland, a nearby park or your very own backyard.

Photo of Northern Cardinal bird
The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of Illinois

In fact, we usually encourage participants to do a backyard Birding Blitz, since that will help you to familiarize yourself with your local bird population, and will increase your enjoyment of spotting these birds again in future.

How do you record birds on a Birding Blitz?

Traditionally, bird sightings were recorded with pen and paper, but nowadays it’s much more convenient to submit your species checklist to eBird, which will also allow your sightings to be shared with anyone else interested in birding in the same area.

If you don’t know how to submit your checklist to eBird, just shoot us an email or contact us via live chat on the day of the Blitz. And if you prefer not to use eBird, you can also send us a copy of your species checklist at the end of the Birding Blitz, and we’ll upload it to eBird for you.

However, we highly recommend using the eBird app yourself, as that will also help you to find more birding hotspots near you, as you’ll get access to sightings submitted by other users.

Why do we submit the results of the Birding Blitz to eBird?

We submit all bird recordings to eBird because that not only helps to increase our knowledge base of birds in Illinois, but also helps to identify important areas for conservation efforts. For example aggregating recordings like this has enabled us to put together a comprehensive list of birds in southern Illinois.

We’ve found that every Birding Blitz comes with some surprises, including rare birds, or birds spotted in unusual locations, habitats, or outside of their typical seasonal patterns.

Rules of the Birding Blitz competition

In order to enter the Birding Blitz competition, you need to be based in any Illinois county. If you’re based outside of Illinois, you’re also welcome to join the Birding Blitz, but will not be able to win the competition.

In order to win the competition, you will need to record more bird species than any other participant on the same day. Birds can be identified either by sight or by sound, and should be submitted to the eBird database.

How to register for the Birding Blitz

If you want to participate in the Birding Blitz competition, you need to register in order to enter your name for consideration. Registration closes 12 hours before the day of each Birding Blitz.

Please click here for a printable registration form. After you’ve filled in the form, send it to us at:

Birding Blitz Registration,

c/o Illinois Audubon Society,

PO Box 2547,

Springfield,

Illinois 62708

Alternatively, you can also send us the form as an E-mail attachment at registration@birdingblitz.org. Make sure to include your name, address and phone number, as well as the date of the Birding Blitz in which you want to participate.

Whoever records the most species wins the competition, and will be published in our newsletter. We have two different categories of winners: individuals and teams.

If you want to enter your whole family, a great way to do this is by entering the family as a team. This is a wonderful way to work together to spot more birds than you could on your own.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Joe Mertens at joe@birdingblitz.com