Birdwatchers from all over New York State and beyond will descend upon the Montezuma Wetlands Complex for the 24th Annual Montezuma Muckrace on Friday, September 10th and Saturday, September 11th. The Montezuma Muckrace, organized by the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, is a 24-hour birding competition that raises funds for bird conservation projects and environmental education programs throughout the Complex.
Mid-September is a great time to be birding at the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, one of New York’s most exciting birding destinations. The Complex has been designated as a globally significant Important Bird Area by Audubon New York and serves as a critical stopover for millions of migratory waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds and birds of prey, including many threatened and endangered species including the Bald Eagle, Pied-billed Grebe, Black Tern and Short-eared Owl. The 242-square mile Montezuma Focus Area, which was highlighted under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan as critical migratory bird habitat, serves as the boundary for the Montezuma Muckrace.
Registration is now open and birding teams can register under several categories (Collegiate, Competitive, Youth, Low-Carbon, Photo, Family/Mentor, or Recreational) and bird together from 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 10th until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 11th while trying to locate as many bird species as possible. Winning teams over the past several years have identified as many as 148 species, and collectively, as many as 192 species have been seen in a single day.
This event, now in its 24th year, has grown in popularity and set records for participation in each of the past 5 years. It is made possible by over 25 generous sponsors, including perennial top sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited at Sapsucker Woods. Besides the funds donated by sponsors, money is also raised through pledges sought by participants. The Montezuma Muckrace teams that raise the most money and locate the most bird species get their name engraved on custom-made trophies which are on display at the Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah, NY.
Event organizers include the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation, Audubon NY and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Montezuma Audubon Center, 2295 Route 89, Savannah, NY, will serve as the event headquarters.
The Montezuma Muckrace has raised over $156,000 in support of habitat restoration, wildlife research and public access. Recent projects have included pollinator research and management, Virginia Rail and Common Gallinule research, Hidden Marsh and Loop Road wetland restoration, construction of several observation decks, Motus Radio Telemetry deployment, and American Black Duck winter banding. For many grant-funded projects, Montezuma Muckrace funds can be used as a critical source of matching funds.
For more information, including 2021 Montezuma Muckrace registration and sponsorship details, visit the Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex website at https://friendsofmontezuma.org/projects-programs/muckrace/.
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