Muckrace at Montezuma

Over 30 teams will compete in the Montezuma Muckrace to find the most bird species during the 24-hour bird-a-thon.

Over 100 Birders Flock to Montezuma Wetlands Complex for 20th Annual Montezuma Muckrace

Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex Sponsors 24-Hour Bird Watching Competition

New York’s top birding teams will descend on the Montezuma Wetlands Complex for the 20th Annual Montezuma Muckrace on Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17. The Muckrace, organized by the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, is a 24-hour bird watching competition that raises funds for bird conservation in this Finger Lakes Region 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 supports over one million waterfowl of at least 30 species, thousands of inland migrating shorebirds, tens of thousands of swallows, and many endangered species including the 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 Muckrace.

Teams register under several categories (Competitive, Youth, Low-Carbon, Photo, Family/Mentor, or Recreational) and bird together from 7 p.m. Friday, September 16 until 7 pm Saturday, September 17 trying to locate as many bird species as possible.  A new category for college students has been added – the Collegiate category –with the hope that this fosters students’ interest in birding and creates a friendly rivalry among local colleges.  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 20th year, has grown in popularity and set records for participation in each of the past 4 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 team that raises the most money gets their name engraved on a custom-made trophy which is on display at the Montezuma Audubon Center.

Event organizers include the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Audubon New York and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Montezuma Audubon Center, 2295 Route 89, Savannah, 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.

Over the 20 years that the Muckrace has been in existence, funds have supported the restoration of wetlands, the regeneration of forests and other important wildlife habitat, and the expansion of environmental education and public use facilities.  The 2015 competition accounted for over $11,000 in donations.  A portion of these funds were used last winter to continue a flyway-wide winter American black duck banding program, a public event to promote the American black duck banding effort, and a new observation platform scheduled to be completed in September of 2016.  The installation of telemetry towers (called Motus towers) is an added focus of fundraising for the 2016 Muckrace.  Motus is new technology being used to understand bird migration (see http://motus.org/).

For more information, including 2016 Montezuma Muckrace registration and sponsorship details, visit the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex website at www.friendsofmontezuma.org.