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Bird the Preserves Big Month

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The Big Month is Over

View competition results here.

During the month of October 2017, the Forest Preserves of Cook County is hosting a Big Month birding competition to follow up on its successful 2016 Big Year.

Teams will take to the woods, wetlands and grasslands of the forest preserves to see how many birds they can spot! As was the case for the 2016 Big Year, teams will adopt a preserve and compete against other preserves. For the Big Month, there will be three ways to compete:

  • See the greatest number of bird species
  • Have the highest percentage of bird species seen compared to the historical totals
  • Have the greatest number of checklists

While spring migration is one of the most exciting times to bird, fall migration also provides great opportunities to see birds heading back south for the winter. The Forest Preserves hopes that the Big Month will encourage people to come out and bird in the fall and will also help collect important data on the species of birds that are using the forest preserves.

Beginning October 1, team participants will enter their sightings at their preserve’s eBird hotspot. Final entries must be made by October 31. All birds must be entered into eBird for the team to get credit. That’s how we’ll know who won! Explore a preserve, make new friends and experience what birding is all about! Anyone can compete in the Big Month, consider joining or starting a team, more information below.

Register a team

Team leaders will pick their Big Month preserve, gather teammates and fill out the team registration survey.

Each team is encouraged to lead at least one free and open to the public birding field trip at their competition preserve during October 2017. Field trips are encouraged so new birders can meet experienced birders, helping to grow the birding community.

Join a Team

New birders and experienced birders are encouraged to join teams by emailing experience.nature@cookcountyil.gov.

  • Busse Woods
  • Eggers Grove
  • Sand Ridge Nature Center
  • River Trail Nature Center
  • Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center
  • Deer Grove East/West
  • Salt Creek/Bemis Woods
  • Skokie Lagoons
  • Spring Creek Forest Preserve
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Orland Grassland
  • Camp Pine Woods
  • Buttonbush Slough
  • Perkins Woods
  • LaBagh Woods
  • Clayton Smith Preserves
  • Burnham Prairie
  • Trailside Museum

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.

Official Rules

  1. Team Member Rules
    • Participation in the Bird the Preserves Big Month Competition is free and open to anyone who lives in Cook County who is eighteen (18) years or older and wishes to participate. However, to be eligible to win you must enter bird sightings into eBird and be a member of a registered Big Month team. Cook County residents who are interested in starting or participating on a Big Month team should email experience.nature@cookcountyil.gov.
    • By virtue of participation in the Big Month Competition, participants acknowledge and agree to abide by the Bird the Preserves Big Month Competition rules and the American Birding Association (ABA) “Code of Ethics” accessed here: aba.org/about/ethics.html
    • In order to tally bird sightings participants must log their data into the eBird website, at ebird.org. Each team member who wants to submit sightings will need an individual profile. Participants who have never used eBird can create a profile at ebird.org. Entries into personal eBird locations will not be counted, only entries into Hotspots.
      • 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 aba.org/about/ethics.html.
  2. Team Rules
    • Only registered Big Month teams may participate.  Big Month teams must register their team at fpdcc.com/birding. Registration can occur any time before October 1, 2017 to participate. Big Month teams must have at least one team leader.
    • Each team leader must register as a Preserves’ volunteer at fpdcc.com/volunteer/ .
    • Big Month teams must select an eBird website hotspot or hotspots to base their sightings on and must stay within the boundaries of the hotspot(s).
    • All hotspot submissions accepted by the eBird website and, where applicable, eBird administrators count toward that Big Month team’s total.
    • Big Month teams are strongly encouraged to offer one birding field trip that is free and open to the public and is welcoming to beginning birders. Each field trip leader must register as a Preserves’ volunteer at fpdcc.com/volunteer/.

Competition Winners
Teams have three opportunities to win the Big Month competition, including having (1) the greatest number of bird species sighted, (2) the highest percentage of bird species seen compared to historical totals, and (3) the greatest number of bird checklists submitted on eBird.org for the entire month of October. Winners will be announced by November 30, 2017. In the event of a tie, the teams who reached the highest tally first by submission will win the competition.

The grand prize for all three winners is one article in the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s e-newsletter, The Forest Way, which will feature each of the winning team sites and teams and will be written and approved by the Preserves’ communication division.

If you have any questions, please contactexperience.nature@cookcountyil.gov

Additional Terms: 
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 Month 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.

Participants, teams, and team leaders 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.