Rethinking Birdathon

Each year we celebrate the arrival of spring and come together to get outside, count birds, build community, and raise critical funds that help Portland Audubon continue to protect wildlife and habitat across the Oregon landscape. In its 40th year, Birdathon hopes to bring in $150,000 by inspiring people to love and protect the natural world. 

Birdathon’s return each spring has been as predictable and fun as the year’s first sighting of a Western Tanager. This year, spring has arrived on schedule but it seems like everything else has changed due to the impacts of COVID-19. Although this is a challenging time, we know that having Birdathon—even in a different form—is critical to our success. Together, we’ll raise vital funds to protect birds and their habitat, and have a much-needed opportunity to be in community with one another around our mutual love of birds and nature.

Western Tanager singing from atop a snag.
Western Tanager, photo by Scott Carpenter

What is Birdathon

The birds we love and the ecosystems they depend on to survive need our help, which makes each Birdathon participant all the more vital. Everyone can play a part in Birdathon, as a donor, participant, or team leader. Join us and raise funds to protect birds as you watch birds. We have over 30 exciting teams this year, with options for seasoned birders, new birders, teens, women, and LGBTQ birders. And, of course, folks can always start their own team!

Birdathon is like a walkathon, but instead of counting miles, Birdathoners count birds and try to find as many species as possible during their team’s outing. Participants gather flat-amount pledges or per-species pledges then go out and bird their hardest. Birdathoners are invited to a celebratory banquet in June to recognize our collective achievements.

How We’re Adapting

Here’s how we are adapting Birdathon so that birds can still bring us together in support of Portland Audubon while we maintain safe physical distancing.

  • Teams have gone virtual. Instead of gathering in groups or traveling by van to remote birding locations, we’ll be birding near home on our own and keeping in touch with our teams using technology. Teams may compile a collective list of the birds they see or send texts and photos to each other while they are out in the field. Some team leaders are creating planned routes that participants can travel on their own with tips and target birds for each stop. Others will hold an online celebration at the end of the Birdathon day to toast the day over video chat. Browse the list of teams on the website to find one that works for you or create your own virtual team with friends.
  • Solo Birdathons. You can also choose to do your own Birdathon anytime before June 10. This is a great year to get excited about backyard birding or spend a morning at a park near your house. Your support of Portland Audubon as a solo Birdathoner is more important than ever before.
  • Online Birdathon Community. We can all share our Birdathon experiences, whatever form they take, on Birdathon’s new Facebook page. You can also post your bird ID questions and get help from expert birders. Find us on Facebook by searching “Portland Audubon’s 2020 Birdathon!”


Learn more and sign up!