Birders Preparing for the Montezuma Muckrace

24-Hour Bird Watching Competition Will Raise Funds for Conservation

Birdwatchers from all over New York State and beyond will descend on the Montezuma Wetlands Complex for the 21st Annual Montezuma Muckrace on Friday, September 15th and Saturday, September 16th. The Muckrace, organized by the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, is a 24-hour bird watching competition that raises funds for bird conservation and environmental education programs in this birding hotspot. 

Mid-September is a great time to be birding at the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, one of New York’s most exciting birding destinations. The Complex has been designated as a globally significant Important Bird Area by Audubon New York, and serves as a critical stopover for millions of migratory waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds and birds of prey, including many threatened and endangered species including the Bald Eagle, Pied-billed Grebe, Black Tern and Short-eared Owl.  The 242-square mile Montezuma Focus Area, which was highlighted under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan as critical migratory bird habitat, serves as the boundary for the Montezuma Muckrace. 

Registration is now open and birding teams can register under several categories (Collegiate, Competitive, Youth, Low-Carbon, Photo, Family/Mentor, or Recreational) and bird together from 7:00 p.m. Friday, September 15th until 7:00 pm Saturday, September 16th trying to locate as many bird species as possible.  Winning teams over the past several years have identified as many as 148 species, and collectively, as many as 192 species have been seen in a single day. 

This event, now in its 21st year, has grown in popularity and set records for participation in each of the past 5 years.  It is made possible by over 25 generous sponsors, including perennial top sponsor: Wild Birds Unlimited at Sapsucker Woods.  Prizes are awarded to all participants with those teams that record the most species getting first crack at the prize table.  Besides funds and prizes donated by sponsors, money is also raised through pledges sought by participants. The Muckrace teams that raise the most money and locate the most bird species get their name engraved on custom-made trophies which are on display at the Montezuma Audubon Center. 

Event organizers include the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation, Audubon NY and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Montezuma Audubon Center, 2295 Route 89, Savannah, NY, will serve as the event headquarters, with participants returning to the Center at the end of the Muckrace to compile their checklists, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy recapping highlights of the day. 

In the 20-year Muckrace history, over $125,000 has been donated in support of bird habitat restoration, research or public access. Recent Montezuma Muckrace donations have supported interpretive exhibits at the Montezuma Audubon Center highlighting habitat restoration, removal of invasive plants and replacement with wildflowers for pollinators at the Refuge Visitor Center, improvement of water level management on a 448-acre impoundment, construction of the Deep Muck observation deck, and support for American Black Duck banding.

For more information, including 2017 Montezuma Muckrace registration and sponsorship details, visit the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex website at

Montezuma Audubon Center
2295 State Route 89
Savannah, NY 13146

The Center is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Visit for more information about our facilities, trails, and events.

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