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Virginia Birding Classic FAQs

Can we try multiple 24-hour periods and submit our best one?

Yes. As long as you submit only one trip report link for one 24-hour period by May 17th at 11:59pm and follow all rules stipulated in the Virginia Birding Classic Rules document, each team may make as many attempts as they would like, and their schedules allow.

Do we need to report the day we plan on going birding to event staff before we go?

No. As long as you plan on birding within 4/15 and 5/15/2024 and within a consecutive 24-hour period, you do not need to confirm, the day you plan on birding beforehand.

What constitutes public lands?

Public lands are areas of land and water that are managed by government agencies (federal, state, county, municipal) and that are open and accessible to all members of the public.

We want to go birding on property that is open to the public, but not owned and managed by the public. Does this count?

No. Property owned by non-governmental organizations, corporate entities, or private citizens, even if those properties are open to the public, are NOT public lands.

Do roads and highways count as public lands?

While the public roads and highways in the Commonwealth are owned and managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), which is a state agency, roads and highways are not considered public lands for the purposes of the Virginia Birding Classic.

Is it only DWR-owned or managed properties that count? What about state parks, national forests, etc.

Birding on all public lands—regardless of the government entity that owns and manages them—is allowed as long as all other rules are followed, including those regarding fees/permits and hours of operation (Rule II.4).

Is using eBird required? How do we submit our team’s checklist?

Yes, eBird is an excellent tool for doing exactly what we are asking you to do: track location and bird species seen at a given time. The eBird trip-report function will give the Virginia Birding Classic team everything they need to evaluate many submissions easily, while also tracking where and what is seen in the competition throughout the years.

The event is during Spring Gobbler hunting season. Do we need to avoid public lands where hunting is allowed?

No. While accessing a property that allows hunting during an open hunting season requires a little more knowledge, preplanning, and courtesy, as long as the property isn’t closed for other uses during hunting season, birders are welcome to access them. For instance, most of DWR’s Wildlife Management Areas allow hunting during Spring Gobbler season, which runs from the 2nd Saturday in April for 5 weeks (35 days), wildlife viewers are welcome to use WMAs as well. Some commonsense safety measures will ensure everyone stays safe and wildlife viewers and hunters can both enjoy their time recreating in the outdoors. Learn more about Best Practices for visitors to WMAs here.

What will my registration fee be used for?

All proceeds from the Virginia Birding Classic will go directly to the Virginia Wildlife Grant Program which awards grants to non-profits focused on fostering a love of the outdoors in Virginia’s youth.

What can we use to identify birds?

Team members should base their bird identifications on what they themselves see or hear. Bird sound identification apps (such as Merlin or BirdNET), photo identification apps (such as iNaturalist), or artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted equipment (such as AI-supported binoculars) should not be used as the only method for identifying birds. Team members may use these tools to confirm their own identification with field guide pictures or bird song apps through ear buds, listening to songs of birds they think it might be to narrow it down or confirm the identification. Using Merlin, other apps, or AI-supported equipment to auto-identify anything you see or hear when you do not necessarily know the bird’s song or can’t see the bird yourself to verify an unfamiliar call is not identifying the bird yourself and the species should not be counted.

I will also be participating in the Virginia Big Day Competition. Can my checklist count towards both events?

Yes! As long as the rules for each event are followed, the effort for one may also be applied to the other.

How do I decide where to go birding?

DWR’s new public lands outdoor recreation locator—Explore the Wild—can help you identify places to go birding near where you are or where you plan on being. DWR’s Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail is a collection of great wildlife viewing opportunities in every corner of the Commonwealth. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a umber of useful tools for identifying, understanding, and finding birds, including Merlin, Birds of the World, and eBird—their flagship online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance.