Delaware Bird-a-Thon

DOS's premiere fund raising event to benefit habitat preservation.

15th Annual Bird-a-Thon scheduled for  May 1-9, 2021!

The Bird-a-thon is back for 2021!

Details for this year

The Delaware Bird-A-Thon is back this spring, so mark your calendars and get ready to do some birding for a great cause! In the 15 years since it began, the Bird-A-Thon has raised over $600,000 for conservation, helped preserve over 2,100 acres of habitat and supports DOS's Conservation Science Grants program. Given this track record, we are thrilled to announce that this year's Bird-A-Thon will take place from May 1-9, 2021! Brochures will be mailed directly to members in April, but registration forms, the full list of rules, and tips and tricks for a successful Bird-A-Thon are availabe below if you scroll down. This year we are also rolling out some new categories, including yard, patch, and photography challenges! We'll be posting those details on the website very soon!

Mispillion Harber Purchase Completed with Past Funds!

DOS is also excited to announce to our members and donors the successful completion of our 2019 Delaware Bird-A-Thon goal: the acquisition and protection of private inholdings at Mispillion Harbor, a globally important migratory shorebird site on the Delaware Bay. This acquisition, in the works for many years and a long-time vision of late Bird-A-Thon founder, Bill Stewart, was the result of a partnership with The Conservation Fund, Delaware Wild Lands, Inc., and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). All Bird-A-Thon participants and donors can take great pride in having helped raise over a quarter of a million dollars from DOS to protect this critical site! (The newly acquired land will not yet be open to the public, as DNREC assesses opportunities for shoreline restoration to benefit the federally threatened Red Knot.) Stay tuned for more updates from DOS as the project progresses!

A New Target for the Bird-a-thon

Sandhill Crane

On the heels of this very welcome news, we are also excited to announce the goal of this year's Bird-A-Thon: the acquisition of the Fortner Property, near Port Penn in New Castle County. Located within the complex of wetlands at Augustine Creek, this property is important to Delaware's small, apparently resident Sandhill Crane population, and includes quality marsh and mature forest habitat for a number of other species that are of conservation concern within the state, including rails and shorebirds. DOS has set a goal of raising $50,000 from this year's Bird-A-Thon, which will go to the acquisition of this property by our partners at Delaware Wild Lands, Inc.

What is the Delaware Bird-A-Thon?

The Bird-A-Thon is a fundraiser focused on purchasing and conserving critical bayshore habitat in Delaware.  Over 15 years we have raised over $600,000 and protected 2100 acres of habitat for shorebirds and other coastal species of concern. Many of these sites are used by long-distance migrants, including the famous Red Knot. A portion of the funds are also used to support the DOS Conservation Science Grants program.

Blackburnian Warbler

How does the Bird-a-Thon work?

Paricipants in the Bird-A-Thon try to see how many birds they can find in a 24-hour period and how much money they can raise by signing up sponsors to support them.  Sponsors can pledge either a set sum of money or an amount of money per bird species seen or heard. Sign up your sponsors and then go find birds in your backyard, wander through your neighborhood, explore a state park, or bird the entire state!  Have fun birding while helping to purchase critical habitats!

How can I donate to the Bird-a-Thon?

If you aren't able to participate in the field but you want to support the effort, you or your business can donate directly to the Bird-a-Thon fund.  All contributions are tax-deductible.  If you want your contribution to go to a specific team, enter the team name where is says "add a note (optional)" on the donation form.


What are the rules for the Delaware Bird-A-Thon?

  • Time period: May 1st-9th, 2021
  • Count must be conducted during a single 24-hour period.
  • Birds may be identified either by sight or sound in Delaware, maritime boundaries included.
  • For teams, 2 or more team members must identify the bird.
  • Participants must adhere to the ABA Code of Birding Ethics.
  • Record birds on the checklist provided in the Bird-A-Thon brochure.
  • Wild birds only, no zoo birds or escapees are eligible.
  • To be eligible for prizes, all checklists, pledge sheets, and funds must be received by June 15th, 2021.
  • Mail completed checklist, pledge form, registration or contributor’s form, and collected donations to: DOS, PO Box 4247, Greenville, DE 19807.


Statewide: The traditional Bird-A-Thon format. Birds are counted throughout the state using any method of transport.

Carbon-free: Lessen your impact on the planet by birding only by walking, biking, and other carbon emissions-free transport methods

County Challenge: Bird within one of Delaware's three amazing counties!

Yard Challenge (NEW): Bird from your yard or immediate neighborhood!

Patch Challenge (NEW): Bird at a single favorite location, such as a local park or wildlife area!

Photography Challenge (NEW): Only photographed birds are counted! Test your photography skills with this fun new category!

Scarlet Tanager

I want to participate.  How do I sign up?

You can register online or by printing out a PDF form and mailing it in.  Once you are registered you need to find sponsors to pledge to your Bird-a-thon.  See the tips below.

Tips for a Successful Bird-a-Thon

Part of the fun is getting sponsors.  Here are some tips for fundraising!

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Set a Goal

Setting a goal not only gives you something to work towards, but also gives your donors a better understanding and definition of the cause. Set a goal that’s attainable, but challenging! Start your first year with whatever feels comfortable, whether it’s $50, $100, or $5000, and work your way up from there.

Sponsors can come from many sources

Contact family and friends and ask them to pledge!

Start a discussion with your co-workers and ask them to support you.

Ask business owners to sponsor you.

Use Social Media

Share the event on your personal social media pages to get the word out to even more people. Make sure to share it early on, and then closer to your big day. Post pictures of birds that could be helped, yourself birding, or habitats that have been saved by the Bird-A-Thon. Live post pictures during your big day to get people excited about the cause!

Tell a story

When requesting money for the Delaware Bird-A-Thon, make sure to tell a story, make it personal and relatable to your potential donors. Why do you care? How are you connected to the cause? What will the money be used for and why is it so important to you?



Give options

Would your donors prefer to donate per species seen? If so, make sure to give them an estimate of how many birds you think you could see, and then follow up with your exact species total after the big day.  If they’d prefer to donate one flat amount, direct them to the website, the mailable donate form, or collect a check.

Follow up

Once you’ve gotten your donations and reached your goal, make sure to stay in touch with your donors. After the event, contact them with a follow-up including a story about your birding adventure. Did you see any life birds? Did something crazy happen? Let them know, and send along a few pictures of your day!


Contact Us with Questions about the Bird-a-thon