The New York State Department of Environment Conservation announced the 2021 “I BIRD NY” challenge, encouraging New York State residents to get out in nature across the state. Bird watching is a fun and safe activity for people of all ages, experiences, and backgrounds to enjoy. This nature experience is free and does not require any equipment, though you may consider a pair of binoculars to enhance your vision.
How The Challenge Works
The challenge is broken up into two levels depending on bird watching experience. The beginner’s birding challenge lists 10 common birds for kids 16 and under to spot and record where they saw the bird. The experienced birder challenge requires participants to identify 10 or more unique types of birds and jot down the location where they were spotted. Once the challenge is completed, participants may submit their challenge worksheet to the DEC to be entered in a drawing for birding equipment. Miyoko Chu, Director of Communications at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, compared bird watching to a treasure hunt in a DEC statement, adding, “once you start looking, it’s amazing how much diversity and beauty in wildlife you can encounter right around you.”
The “I BIRD NY” challenge was launched in 2017 by Governor Andrew Cuomo in an effort to promote no- and low-cost opportunities for New Yorkers to explore their surroundings. New York State offers a wide variety of natural environments, ranging from sandy beaches to the Adirondacks to shorelines of the Great Lakes.
Birdwatching has become a popular pastime recently. During the pandemic, many people found an appreciation for birdwatching. Molly Adams of the Feminist Bird Club encourages participation in the “I BIRD NY” challenge, saying in the DEC’s statement that it is a “great way for birders to familiarize themselves with local birds, their habitats, and seasonality.”
If you are unable to embark on an outdoor journey, there is an alternative! The DEC is providing special #AdventureAtHome content on Facebook and Instagram for those who are unable to set out on a nature visit.