To accommodate construction, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will be closed Tuesday, May 28, through Thursday, May 30.

Birding Cup Rules and Regulations

The Birding Cup is Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center’s annual fundraising event to support projects that enhance educational programming, research, wildlife habitat, and facilities. Although there is no participation fee, in the spirit of the fundraiser and to help defer costs, teams are asked to solicit donations of at least $200 through the GiveCampus site or by downloading and printing the 2024 Birding Cup Pledge Sheet (pdf). In lieu of outside support, teams can make an in-kind donation.

The Birding Cup is awarded to the team that counts the most bird species during the 24 hours of the event within a defined seven-county region in Central Pennsylvania. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was extended to our Global Community in a non-competitive way so participants could work together across the Earth to tally as many species as possible. Whether competing locally or just for fun around the globe, everyone should practice proper birding ethics.

The following set of rules are specific to those teams choosing to participate in the traditional Birding Cup, County Cup, Birding Boot, Potter Mug, and Micro Cup categories. These standards and practices, with which participants must comply, are adapted from the Big Day Count rules established by the American Birding Association and the World Series of Birding. All participants must be familiar with and willing to comply with all of the rules in order to compete.

I. Participants

  1. In addition to the overall Birding Cup, categories for participation include the County Cup (see rule III. 2. for details), the Potter Mug (teams with two or fewer years of bird watching experience), the Micro Cup (see rule III.2. for details), or the Birding Boot (teams birding by non-motorized means). 
  2. Birding Cup, County Cup, Birding Boot, and Potter Mug teams must consist of a minimum of three individuals at all times. Micro Cup teams are made up of exactly two individuals. Team captains must register their team and identify their category of competition no later than Sunday, April 30, to be eligible to win their respective category. Only teams that can show they have raised a minimum of $200 in donations or pledges by Saturday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m are eligible to win their respective category. Please contact Doug Wentzel with questions at 814-865-4123 or
  3. In the event one team competes in multiple categories and sees the majority of species in more than one of them, the team will only “win” one category, and the second place team(s) will be awarded the prize in the other respective categories. In this situation, preference will be given in the following order: 1. Birding Cup, 2. County Cup, 3. Birding Boot, 4. Potter Mug. For example, a team stays within a single county yet still manages to record more species than any other team and is therefore awarded the Birding Cup. The County Cup goes to the team with the next highest tally that stayed within one county. Or, a team competes on foot within one county for the Birding Boot and County Cup and sees more than any other County Cup team. They would win the County Cup and the next highest Birding Boot team would win that category. This rule does not apply to the Micro Cup because of the rules for team sizes (see above).
  4. Any number of non-birding participants may join a team, but these participants may not assist the team in any way in the location or identification of birds. A designated driver who is a team member may assist in the identification or location of birds, as long as they drive safely.
  5. Registered participants may join and/or leave the team throughout the day, as long as the birds sighted and recorded are in accordance with the counting rules IV.1. and IV.8. For example, if your team started with five people, you should be tallying birds that are seen/heard by at least four team members. If two additional members join you from noon–3:00 p.m., the total team members that you now have is seven. In order to count a bird during that time frame, it must be seen or heard by 3/4 of your team members, which would be at least six members. While Micro Cup teams are restricted to two individuals at any one time, team members may have substitutes throughout the count period. Members joining their team during the competition should not supply the team with information gathered after the start time.

II. Event Schedule

All counting must take place between 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2024 — twenty-four hours. An in-person wrap-up event will be held at Shaver’s Creek immediately following, where all teams must submit a paper checklist of species seen by 7:30 p.m. to be eligible to win their respective category.

Friday, May 3
Time Event
7:00 p.m. Start counting from anywhere within the seven-county area!
Saturday, May 4
Time Event
7:00 p.m. Stop counting.
7:30 p.m. Turn in checklist at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.
7:00–9:00 p.m. Share stories, review the checklist, eat snacks, and award prizes!

III. Geographic Area

  1. Only bird species recorded in the following counties will count for the various Birding Cup categories: Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Huntingdon, Juniata, and Mifflin.
  2. A team may compete for the County Cup by restricting their birding to one of the above seven counties. A team of two may compete for the Micro Cup by limiting their birding to a one-mile diameter circle within the greater count area above. Team captains should declare their intentions when they register (see rule I.2).
  3. Teams may begin and end their route anywhere in the count area but must finish counting promptly at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and arrive at the wrap-up gathering at Shaver’s Creek by 7:30 p.m. Teams that are solely or primarily competing in Clearfield, Clinton, or Juniata counties may choose to begin and end at 6:00 p.m. to allow for travel back to Shaver’s Creek by 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

IV. Counting

  1. Teammates actively participating (in accordance with rule I.5.) must be within earshot of each other for any species to be counted during the Cup.
  2. Count only full species as indicated by the current checklist. Species not found on the checklist are not typically found in our area in early May, and must be accompanied with proper documentation (e.g., photos and field notes) as outlined by the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee (PORC).
  3. To the best of your ability, we ask that you log the birds you identify during the Birding Cup on eBird. As you submit each checklist, we ask that you share it with Shaver’s Creek’s “shaverscreek” eBird account, which will allow us to compile all of the species seen in the 24 hours. Each checklist should follow eBird best practices, such as starting a new checklist if you enter a new habitat, travel more than five miles, and/or have been counting for three hours.
  4. Birds must be conclusively identified by sight or sound. A bird identified as one of a species or group (e.g., scaup, either greater or lesser) may be counted as a species, if no other bird in that group appears on your list. FOR EXAMPLE: “Scaup species” counts towards your overall species total, but “Greater Scaup” and “scaup species” still counts as only one species.
  5. Introduced or reintroduced species may be counted providing they appear on the current checklist. Northern Bobwhite is considered a released exotic and has been removed from the checklist to reflect updates to eBird.
  6. Birds counted must be alive, wild, and unrestrained. Sick or injured birds may be counted. Birds in cages or eggs do not count.
  7. Electronic or recorded birdcalls may not be used to attract birds or entice them to vocalize during Birding Cup. Bird recordings may be used to help in the identification of birds and may be included among your gear, but you may only use the recordings as a reference. We also ask that you please refrain from using the Merlin app to identify species for you.
  8. Any bird tallied must be seen and/or heard and identity agreed upon by at least 3/4 of the team members (all members of a 3-person team, and both members of a Micro Cup team!). If you have five members on your team, at least four people must hear and/or see the bird and agree on the identification. It is not necessary for all team members to record the same individual bird. If three members of the team hear a Downy Woodpecker and a fourth person does not, BUT manages to tally another Downy Woodpecker later in the day, then Downy Woodpecker has been recorded successfully, as long as team members were adhering to rule IV.1. when it was identified.

V. Travel

  1. All vehicles except aircraft or drones may be used. Participants are not required to travel in the same vehicle so long as they make an effort to stay together and comply with other travel rules when counting birds. Birding Boot teams may use a vehicle to transport themselves to and from their starting/ending point, but not during the event.
  2. Team members are encouraged to remain physically distant for COVID-19 safety, but only at distances that permit direct, unamplified voice contact at all times. Voice contact is defined as shouting distance.
  3. Please travel safely and use good judgment. All teams must comply with Pennsylvania highway, biking, and boating laws. Failure to do so will result in disqualification.

VI. Conduct and Ethics

  1. Team members must remain within voice contact of all other members at all times.
  2. Team members must count only birds personally and unquestionably identified.
  3. Team members must be familiar with the rules of the competition before the event.
  4. Each participant must practice proper birding ethics at all times and be good ambassadors. Please refer to the American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics.
  5. All teams should enjoy themselves and keep the big picture in mind — the event is designed as a fun educational fundraiser rather than a strict competition. Your support and good conduct are greatly appreciated.

VII. Outside Information

  1. Any information received prior to the count period may be used. During the competition, teams must make every reasonable effort to avoid receiving bird-finding help from other sources, including eBird, rare bird alerts, etc. If a rare bird occurrence is discovered in this way during the event, teams are welcome to choose to seek the bird, but may not tally the species. Phone, radio contact, and prearranged field encounters (except encounters whose purpose is to gain access or entry to private or restricted areas) are not permitted. When other birders are encountered accidentally, participants may not solicit bird-finding information and should avoid receiving any information from them (unless the other team is in a good mood and feeling generous). If an accidental encounter occurs, despite all precautions and in the spirit of raising money, the team may use the information received.
  2. Exceptions: The bird sighting sheets at state parks and visitor centers may be used.

Congratulations, you made it through the rules. Good luck and good birding!

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