Felix Neck invites the entire community to take part in their annual Bird-a-thon, with a bit of a twist.
Normally, Felix Neck sends teams of birders out into the wilderness in a friendly competition to identify the most species they can in a 24-hour period. They also traditionally provide a benefit concert at the Ritz to raise money for the sanctuary.
But this year, with social distancing guidelines in place, Felix Neck invites folks to look out their window, step into their backyard, and go adventuring in a green space within walking or biking distance from home.
The focus of this year’s event is carbon-free birding and safe social distancing.
Felix Neck will also welcome music lovers of all ages to take part in a virtual concert on Saturday, May 9, from 8 to 10 pm. Island musicians will play their hearts out in support of Island wildlife and wildlands. Local musicians will include Ben Hughes, Rose Guerin, Delanie Pickering, Mike Benjamin and others. The concert will be provided in partnership with the Ritz.
“We’re doing all we can to raise money for Felix Neck,” said Ritz owner Larkin Stallings. “There will be a bird call contest . . . it will be really casual and fun.”
After the concert, excited birders will go out and search for species from 6 pm on Friday, May 15, through 6 pm on Saturday, May 16.
Birders can spend time searching solo, or with family members.
Participants can earn points for their team by competing in other nature-based activities, or as “Bird-a-thon Boosters” who raise money while birding, or not birding.
Office manager Liz Cosgrove said she is excited for her first year helping out with the Bird-a-thon. She explained that the Bird-a-thon booster activities include fun activities for kids such as coloring and picture drawing. This way, even those who don’t want to search for birds can participate and raise funds.
“I think people are really enthusiastic. We are coming at it from a different angle, but it will be a great time and I’m really excited,” Cosgrove said.
Sanctuary director Suzan Bellincampi said she wants to highlight the importance of nature with this year’s Bird-a-thon from home.
“It’s amazing how many people are texting in pictures of birds. We are reengaging with our surroundings and I think that is a key piece to this event,” Bellincampi said.
She said the Bird-a-thon has two main focuses: the fundraising piece, which allows for Felix Neck to continue their valuable community programs and maintain their endless network of trails and wild spaces; and encouraging people to get out and connect with their families and with the natural world.
“Anyone can participate, we are going beyond birders this year. You can do it with your kids, you can look out your window at your bird feeder,” Bellincampi said. “We are looking to include everyone in the fun.”
Those who may not be able to go outdoors or who don’t feel like participating in a birdwatch can still be Bird-a-thon Boosters. They can help the organization by setting up a fundraising page for Felix Neck, or they can take pictures of birds or draw birds, still taking part in some of the activities.
“It’s fun for kids, for older people, really anyone who wants to support Felix Neck and get involved,” Bellincampi said.
To participate, donate, and to learn more about Bird-a-thon, visit massaudubon.org/birdathon and click on Felix Neck to keep your donations local, or contact Liz Cosgrove, team captain, at 508-627-4850 to find out how to participate. Here’s the link for the Saturday night concert with the Ritz: us02web.zoom.us/j/87840004257 with Meeting ID: 878 4000 4257.