Explore a preserve, make new friends and experience what birding is all about
From March 1 to December 31, 2016, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is hosting a Big Year birding competition… with a twist! During the Bird the Preserves Big Year competition, the preserves compete instead of the people. Teams in the Big Year competition will have two main objectives:
- See which preserve has the most birds. This will be determined by the number of bird species accepted by eBird for the site hotspot.
- See which preserve team can engage the most new birders in their Big Year efforts. This will be determined by field trip attendance sheets.
Beginning March 1, team participants will enter their sightings at their preserve’s eBird hotspot. Final entries must be made by December 31. All birds must be entered into eBird for the team to get credit. That’s how we’ll know who won! Prizes will be awarded to the top two teams with the most bird species and top two teams with the most new birders engaged. Interested participants can join as a team member or as a team leader.
What is eBird?
Here are resources to help get you started:
Join a Team
New birders and experienced birders are encouraged to join teams. The competition will be a fun way for participants to see some great birds, visit amazing places and make a connection with nature. Bird at the preserve you have chosen as often as you can and enter your sightings into the eBird hotpsot. If you’re not sure how to register for eBird, your team can help. And be on the lookout for team field trips and events at your preserve.
Register a Team
Team leaders will pick their Big Year preserve, gather teammates and fill out the team registration survey.
Each team leader is asked to plan five birding field trips at their competition preserve between March 1 and Dec. 31, with at least two trips planned on weekends. Field trips are encouraged so new birders can meet experienced birders, helping to grow the birding community.
Register as a Leader
Official Bird the Preserves Big Year Competition Rules
From March 1 to December 31, 2016, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is hosting a Big Year Birding Competition. There are three ways to compete!
- Compete on a Big Year team against other teams to see which team can see the most bird species. This will be determined by the number of different bird species accepted by eBird.org for the site hotspot for the team.
- Compete on a Big Year team against other teams to see which team engages the most new birders. This will be determined by field trip sign in forms.
- If you are a new birder, participate in a separate monthly random drawing for new birders who have attended a bird field trip/walk and submitted their information through a field trip sign in form.
Please note these important dates and deadlines:
- March 1 – Start of competition, teams start entering bird sightings to their hotspot location on ebird.org and submitting field trip sign in forms to tally new birders. Teams that register after March 1, 2016 will still be able to count bird sightings entered into ebird.org toward their overall total and submit field trip forms for new birders.
- March 1 – December 31 – The duration of the competition, bird sightings entered into ebird.org and field trip forms submitted will only be counted for this time period. Monthly random drawings for new birders only during this time period.
- December 31 –Teams must enter all bird sightings to their hotspot location on ebird.org by the end of the day.
- January 6 – Deadline to submit field trip forms to tally new birders. Forms must be submitted to the Forest Preserves of Cook County by 5 p.m. on January 6, 2017.
- January 13-31 – Five winners of the competition will be announced, including three winners for the most new birders recruited and two winners for the most bird species sighted.
Competition Rules for New Birders and Most Species Sighted
- Team Member Rules
- Participation in the Bird the Preserves Big Year Competition is free and open to anyone who lives in Cook County who wishes to participate. However, to be eligible for the end of the year awards you must be registered with a Big Year team. Cook County residents who are interested in participating on a Big Year team should fill out the team member registration contact form at fpdcc.com/2016-big-year/#member.
- Staff employed by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Chicago Botanic Garden, and Chicago Zoological Society may participate, but are not eligible to win awards. .
- By virtue of participation in the Big Year Competition, participants acknowledge and agree to abide by the Bird the Preserves Big Year Competition rules and the American Birding Association (ABA) “Code of Ethics” accessed here: www.aba.org/about/ethics.html
- In order to tally bird sightings each participant must log their data into the eBird website, at www.ebird.org . Each team member who wants to submit sightings will need to create an individual profile. Entries into personal eBird locations will not be counted. Recording Rules are as follows:
- Eligible birds must be observed within the team’s eBird hotspot boundaries, and accepted by the eBird moderator. Birds can be seen or heard, and flyovers are admissible.
- The bird must be alive, wild, and unrestrained when encountered.
- The bird must have been encountered under conditions that conform to the ABA Code of Ethics available at www.aba.org/about/ethics.html
- Must be eighteen (18) years or older to participate.
- Participants may not exclude or try to exclude any member of the public from participating in the competition on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, marital status, disability, national origin, status of discharge from military, or other protected status.
- Team Rules
- Only registered Big Year teams may participate. Big Year teams must register their team at www.fpdcc.com/2016-big-year/. Registration can occur anytime between March 1, 2016 and April 31, 2016 to participate. Teams that register after March 1, 2016 will still be able to count bird sightings entered into www.ebird.org toward their overall total and submit field trip forms for new birders.
- Big Year teams must have at least one team leader. Each team leader must register as a Preserves volunteer at www.fpdcc.com/volunteer/ .
- Big Year teams must select an eBird website hotspot to base their sightings on and must stay within the boundaries of the hotspot. See www.bcnbirds.org/birdthepreserves/ for list of eligible hotspots for each preserve.
- All eBird website hotspot submissions count toward that Big Year team’s total. Big Year teams must offer at least five birding field trips/walks that are free and open to the public, with at least two field trips/walks taking place on a weekend. While only five are required, Big Year teams are encouraged to host as many field trips/walks as possible.
- Information for field trips/walks should be submitted to the Preserves to be listed in the online event calendar at www.fpdcc.com/birding.
- Teams and team leaders will not exclude or try to exclude any member of the public from participating in the competition on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, marital status, disability, national origin, status of discharge from military, or other protected status.
- New birders will be tallied based on the field trip sign in forms. Participants who mark on the field trip sign in form that they have birded three times or less in the Forest Preserves will be tallied.
Awards for Most New Birders Engaged and Most Species Sighted
Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams who recruit the most new birders based on field trip sign in forms and the top two teams who report the most bird species to the eBird website. Winners will be announced by January 31, 2017. In the event of a tie, the teams who reached the highest tally first by submission will be awarded the prize.
- Grand prizes will be awarded to:
- The three teams with the most new birders participating in its field trips
- The two teams with the most bird species accepted by eBird
- Grand Prizes include:
- A behind the scenes tour of the Bird Division at the Field Museum for up to ten people.
- A behind the scenes tour of the Living Coast at Brookfield Zoo for up to eight people.
- A behind the scenes tour of the Chicago Botanic Garden for up to five people.
- A free camping weekend for the group at any Forest Preserves of Cook County campground with a naturalist tour included for up to ten people.
- A guided canoe trip at the Skokie Lagoons for up to twelve people.
- Each team will select the award they want, with the team with the most new birders choosing first, the team with the most new bird species choosing second, the team with the second most new birders choosing third, the team with the second most new bird species choosing fourth, and the team with the third most new birders choosing last.
- Prizes have limited numbers of people that can be accommodated; for teams with more team members than the prizes can accommodate, names will be selected through a random drawing to determine who can participate.
- The Preserves camping weekend award includes a two night stay for up to ten people at one of five campgrounds and the choice of accommodations (cabin or tent campsite). Choice of campground and accommodations is subject to availability. The Preserves is unable to provide tents or other camping equipment. Winners will check-in after 3 pm on a Friday or Saturday and check-out before 12 pm on a Sunday or Monday.
- The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s canoe trip award includes the use of canoes for up to twelve people and a guided tour of the Skokie Lagoons by an ACA Certified Canoeing Instructor. The canoe trip award can only be claimed between April 2017 and October 2017 with date and time subject to availability.
- Once awarded prizes must be used by December 31, 2017. Dates and times must be agreed on by the recipient and the donor, which includes the Preserves, Field Museum, Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Garden. Unused prizes will expire January 1, 2018, except the canoe trip award which must be used by October 15, 2017.
- Award winners may be required to sign waivers of liability before participating in awarded experience.
Monthly New Birder Drawing
- One new birder will randomly be selected each month to win Forest Preserves’ gear.
- Winners will be selected from field trip sign in forms that are turned into the Forest Preserves by Big Year teams. If under 18 years of age, parental consent required to participate.
- Field trip leaders have until the end of first week of the following month to submit field trip forms to the Forest Preserves of Cook County in order for their new birders to be entered into the monthly drawing.
- Winners will be announced the second week of the following month.
- A new birder is someone who marks on the field trip sign in form that they have only birded, one, two or three times or that this is their first time birding in the Forest Preserves. Individuals who participate on bird field trips more than once will be entered multiple times as long as they meet the criteria above.
- Only new birders who provide an email address will be entered into the monthly drawing.
- The Forest Preserves of Cook County will contact winners via email.
If you have any questions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County (the “Preserves”) shall determine winner eligibility in its sole and absolute discretion. All decisions made by the Preserves are final. The Preserves reserves the right to disqualify any teams that do not abide by the stated rules.
Please note that participation in the Preserves Big Year Competition shall have no impact, positive or negative, with respect to a participant’s current business relationship with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, if any, or with respect to any actual or potential response by participant to the Preserves requests for proposals/quotations and/or bids.