photo by Steve Davis
Every year in mid-May, zealous birders everywhere hold contests
to see how many birds they can find. Some bird clubs call
it their “Big Day,” but Sullivan County Audubon
calls it “Break-a-100.” Here are some Q
& A about this event.
Q: What is the point
A: It is a fun contest
where participants see how many species of birds they can
find in the county in a 24-hour period, hoping to find more
than 100 species. It is a challenge that birders take in order
to improve their birding skills, and they do it because it
Q: Why is it held in
A: Because the peak of
spring migration occurs near that time. The winter birds are
mostly gone, though a few may linger, and the spring birds
have mostly arrived. Therefore there are more different kinds
of birds present in the county than at any other time of the
year. (Of course weather factors may make the migration early
or late, and we just make our best guess by selecting a weekend
Q: Why is it held on
A: There is nothing here
that is anti-Mother. We simply pick the weekend closest to
mid-May, and unfortunately that means that in some years we
have picked Mother’s Day. (Actually, some Mothers think
that looking for birds is a great thing to do on their day.)
Q: Is this a national
event sponsored by the Audubon Society or some other group?
A: No, this is a local
event held by individual bird clubs. The information gathered
is kept locally and is published in our newsletter.
Q: How many kinds of
birds were found on “Break-a-100” in 2002?
A: Four teams participated,
and Scott Graber’s team led the pack with 126 species,
closely followed by Renee Davis and John Haas with 124 species. Check
out the results of all our past “Break-a-100”
Q: Is it essential to
do this with a team?
A: Yes. It helps a great
deal to have more eyes looking, and you will see and hear
many more kinds if you are with another birder. And it’s
more fun! Also, if you find a rarity (as seems to happen almost
every year) it is essential to make sure that someone else
sees it to confirm the identification. For these reasons,
we require participants in our “Break-a-100” to
have at least one partner. (Of course, anyone can count birds
for practice, to see how many they can find, without having
a partner or a team.)
Q: Do you have to see
the bird to put it on your list, or does hearing it count?
A: You can list both heard
birds and birds seen. (You should get a CD or tape of bird
songs to help with this!)
Q: How can I participate?
A: If you are a member
of Sullivan County Audubon Society, contact