CONCORD — NH Audubon’s “Twitchers’ are going viral in 2021, with three teams taking part in the re-named Semi-Superbowl of Birding on January 30, 2021. The Superbowl is a competition that takes place in January – but this Superbowl has nothing to do with football. It involves looking for as many bird species as possible in 12 hours and is run by Massachusetts Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center. Teams can compete in Essex County, MA and/or Rockingham County, NH in various categories.
This year the rules have changed due to COVID-19 and all team members must be in the same “bubble.” The “Twitchers” will still be competing for the Townie Award in New Hampshire but instead of one team of four people in a single town there will be three teams of one or two people. Each team will be in a different town so competition for the Townie Award will be fierce and fun.
Becky Suomala, the Twitcher team captain last year, will be a team of one, the “Townie Solitaire” (aka The Lone Twitcher), competing in Seabrook. “The Twitchers have been in Rye and Hampton before,” said Becky, “but it’s the first time that Seabrook has been tackled.” Pam Hunt (who started the Twitchers) is coming out of retirement to form the team “Birding with Impunity” in the Twitchers’ home town of Rye. Two other Twitchers are teaming up as “Twitch-n-Dip” in Hampton, NH. “It will be great fun and very interesting to see how the towns compare. We haven’t been able to do that before,” said Suomala. There are rumors that more teams may sign up for the Townie Award which will create an exciting competition for this prize category.
Rare species are worth more points than common ones, so each team will be scouting in advance to see if there are any “five-pointers” in their town. Becky Suomala says she’s already been out checking Seabrook. Teams are required to call in and report the five point birds so that sightings can be shared with other teams who are not restricting themselves to just one town. The first team to find a particular five-point species gets bonus points.
The Twitchers also raise money to support NH Audubon and accept pledges to support New Hampshire Bird Records and NH eBird. Help spur the Twitchers on by pledging an amount per species or per point – and support the collection of bird data for conservation at the same time. “I’ll miss my fellow team members this year and I know that pledges will help keep me, and the other teams going!” said Becky Suomala.
If you see a car with one or two people, peering with binoculars at a bird feeder, don’t be alarmed. They are likely one of the Twitcher teams or another team of birders taking part in this annual birding competition.