Birders to compete in this week’s Bird-a-thon

Piping plover chicks on the south shore.

VAN DE GRAAFF Piping plover chicks on the south shore.

Piping plover chicks on the south shore.

Westport’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary will be among the hotspots  when hundreds of birding enthusiasts on 30 teams compete across the state to spot the most species in a 24-hour period during Mass Audubon’s annual Bird-a-thon fundraiser May 17-18.

The event will start at 6 pm this Friday, May 17, and end at 5:59 pm on Saturday, the 18th. Marking its 30th anniversary, Bird-a-thon has become a popular celebration of birdlife for Mass Audubon members and other visitors of Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.

Bird-a-thon 2013 organizers are hoping that competitors and supporters surpass last year’s remarkable numbers: 270 species spotted and nearly $200,000 raised by 740 participants on 28 teams.

“This fun event is appropriate for people of all abilities, ages, and backgrounds,” said Sanctuary Director Gina Purtell. The event helps “participants to connect with nature while also raising funds for Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries and programs.”

Prizes will be awarded in several categories, including for the most species spotted by a team, the most money raised by a team, and the top individual fundraiser.

Those who can’t join a team can still participate by pledging money to a team member or by becoming a “Bird-a-thon Booster.” Fellow birders and supporters can also keep up with team members during the event on Twitter by following @MassAudubon, hashtag #birdathon.

To join a team, make a donation, see the list of prizes, or get more information, visit