Naturalist Rich MacDonald captured this photo of a barred owl near Sieur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park recently. MacDonald is leading the Downeast Audubon Birdathon fundraiser on May 26. PHOTO COURTESY OF RICH MACDONALD

Birdathon seeks watchers, donations

BAR HARBOR — Area naturalists will be fielding a team to be on the lookout for birds as part of a fundraising effort for Downeast Audubon’’s educational programs.

On Thursday, May 26, The Natural History Center – led by Rich MacDonald – will lead a team of birders and naturalists to look for birds. They are looking for pledges with donors giving a flat fee or agreeing to give based on the number of species seen.

The group also is looking for others interested in participating as spotters. For a donation of $250 or more, attendees can spend all (or part) of the day with a group of some of Maine’s top birders. They will start in the wee hours to look for owls, then explore Mount Desert Island until noon in pursuit of songbirds, hawks and more.

Weather permitting, during the afternoon, the group will go out on the Bar Harbor Whale Watch to look for seabirds. Afterward, they will look for those birds that are still missing from the list.

Last year, more than $19,000 was raised. “Thanks to this generous support, many local, Hancock County youths directly benefited,” MacDonald said. Several were given full scholarships to nature camps.

“This money funded natural history programs that traveled to local schools. It enabled two classes a three-day intensive nature study course at Schoodic Education and Research Center.”

The funds also allowed Downeast Audubon to expand their Bluebird Trail across the county (bluebirds have long suffered nesting habitat loss, but the boxes have helped their population rebound; some of these boxes can be viewed at Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Babson Creek Preserve and at College of the Atlantic’s Peggy Rockefeller Farm).

“Please consider lending your support in any amount,” MacDonald said. Pledge a flat rate. Or pledge any amount per species (they usually find close to 100 species of birds). Checks should be made payable to “Downeast Audubon” – they are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and all donations are tax deductible – and mailed c/o The Natural History Center, P.O. Box 6, Bar Harbor, ME 04609.

Residents not signed up also can help by reporting any good birds, whether coming to your feeders that day, owls parked in your woods, nesting hawks, wild turkeys or anything of particular interest, organizers said. To report interesting sighting, call MacDonald at 266-9461.

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