Birdathon: A Look Behind the Binoculars

Margaret Rohdei
Past Participants Can’t Stop Raven About this Event


Ok, we’ll stop with the puns, don’t want to make it hawk-ward.


About the Event


The Wissahickon Birdathon is in its 27th year! People of all ages and ability levels are encouraged to form teams (2+ people) and spend time outdoors looking and listening for as many birds as possible in a 24-hour period starting April 30, 2021 at 5pm. Due to Covid-19, we have expanded this event to include all of Montgomery, Philadelphia, and Bucks Counties. Participants can bird alone or with their team wherever they choose--sit in a backyard, visit local parks, or travel to various nature preserves throughout the day. At the end of 24-hours, each team will compile all of their sightings and submit them to Wissahickon Trails.


We’ve heard from folks that it can be a little overwhelming to join or that they aren’t a “serious birder.” So, we sat down—virtually--with past participants Jamie Stewart, Chrisy Frederick, and Pat Frederick, to get their takes on the event and why the Birdathon really is for everyone.


Do you need to be a bird nerd to participate? 


Chrisy: “Absolutely not! You don’t even have to be a birder, just have a slight interest. If you’re slightly interested in birds, and you enjoy nature and being outside, definitely give it a shot. It’s going to grow your interest in birding just by being outside and in the environment. It’s a great experience, you’re going to see and hear some birds that you’ve never even heard of before. It’s just a great life experience.”


Pat: “There are a lot of new birders to the scene because of the pandemic and they are watching their feeders and backyards intently. I would encourage them to take it a little further, [to participate] they can just sit in the yard and count the birds they see. Chrisy jumped in when she was a neophyte and it catapulted both of us into it. There’s no required skill level involved.”


Jamie: “We’ve had birders join that knew a handful of birds, like robins and cardinals. But, they keep coming back and each year they recognize more and they learn from other teams. We’re all friendly and share the birds that we see. It’s about comradery, we’re not keeping secrets. We enjoy exchanging ideas.”


Is there something about the Birdathon that you look forward to?


Jamie: “It’s fun! We have a great time. We have a group of people that wouldn’t normally get together to do something. But this event is the one time of the year we all get together and we look forward to it every year. Also, we get to visit preserves we wouldn’t normally visit, because we’re looking for a specific bird. We’re looking for variety, for species, and we’ll go anywhere looking for them.”


Chrisy: “I look forward to the evening of the first night, I love looking for owls. When we first meet and we’re looking owls that’s best part, it’s really exciting.”


Why does birding matter to you?


Chrisy: “It’s a great way to slow down and connect with nature. Before birding, I was always running, biking, or walking fast. I wasn’t taking time to listen to what was around me. It’s a great way to be aware of the environment, which makes me more inclined to protect it. It can be done by all skill and activity levels. Any age can do it. It’s a challenge. It uses all your senses.”


Pat:It’s something that Chrisy and I enjoy doing together. There’s a level playing field. We’ve become a good team. We bounce things off each other, ask questions. We’ve done it for hours together, we’ve gotten good at communicating with each other. It’s a great couple’s activity. And we’ve even got our two-year-old granddaughter pointing out birds to us.


Support Conservation


Participants are encouraged—but not required—to collect donations to support Wissahickon Trails’ efforts to preserve and restore habitat for birds and all wildlife. To learn more about our bird conservation initiatives and where your donation dollars would be used click here. All participants must register in advance, there is a registration fee of $35 which includes a t-shirt.


Get Involved


Don’t wait! Register today for this fun event. It’s our goal to make participating as easy as possible, check out the event page for recommended birding locations, a bird checklist, rules, and more. Questions? Reach out to Lisa Hansell,