Teams of bird watchers hoping to spot a rare cerulean warbler or northern goshawk will fan out across central Pennsylvania on May 3-4 for Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center’s annual Birding Cup. The same weekend, Shaver’s Creek will also host a festival promoting native Pennsylvania plants.
At least 100 people on more than 20 teams will compete in this year’s 16th annual Birding Cup, which awards prizes for the most bird species spotted in a 24-hour period. Last year’s winning team identified 136 species. The competition lasts from 7 p.m. May 3 until 7 p.m. May 4. Competitors will stay up long after dark searching for owls, cuckoos and other night songsters, and will be back on the prowl well before dawn, said Joshua Potter, Shaver’s Creek marketing information coordinator.
The annual competition is a fundraiser for the environmental center. This year’s fundraising goal is $12,000, and will go toward creation of a bird- and visitor-friendly “aerie garden” at the center.
Competitors from up and down the East Coast will compete for several awards including the Birding Cup, which recognizes the team that identifies the most species anywhere in Huntingdon, Centre and adjoining counties. Teams will also compete for the Birding Boot, for the team that spots the most species while traveling without using motorized vehicles; the County Cup, for the team that finds the most species in just one county; and the Potter Mug, for the best novice team.
More information on the Birding Cup is available here.
Native Plant Festival
The same weekend, Shaver’s Creek will host the third annual Central Pennsylvania Native Plant Festival and Sale, where visitors can enjoy programs about plants, gardening and birds of prey, and purchase native plants and local food from vendors. A portion of the proceeds go to Shaver’s Creek.
Holding the Plant Festival and Birding Cup on the same weekend is “a nice way to highlight the interrelationships between migrating birds and native plant species,” Potter said.
Featured talks and walks include creating a butterfly habitat, managing native and non-native plants, and the connection between native plant gardening and birds. State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham will share tips for gardening with her favorite native plants at 12:30 p.m.
The plant festival is free and open to the public, and runs from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. May 4.