Youth Birding


The Lord has been showering us with blessing after blessing this week! My middle boys participate every year in the Georgia Youth Birding Competition, an event in which children fan out all over the state and see how many bird species they can spot and identify during a 24 hour period. They and their two teammates work hard all year, memorizing bird calls and field marks, in preparation for the competition each spring.

We woke up early Saturday morning to a very unusual sight! As if to wish us “Happy Birding”, this Pileated Woodpecker flew up to our deck and even perched on our window, allowing us an up close and personal look at this beautiful bird.

The organizers of this event go out of their way to make the children feel so special, as the event culminates in a banquet, a live bird of prey show and an award ceremony, in which the children are given wonderful prizes that help take them take their birding to the next level.

Our team won binoculars, field guides and spotting scopes at last year’s birding competition.

Although our team won their age division last year, we were not expecting a win this year, as our team of 1st-3rd graders was moving into a new age bracket. The older boys had to compete at the 3rd-5th grade level, and the younger boys did not want to split up from their brothers, so the entire team moved into the new age category.

The birding was hard this year, as very hot weather meant that there weren’t as many birds out and about. The children battled fatigue and discouragement, but they dug deep and persevered.

The boys managed to identify 73 birds during the 24 hour period, many spotted “by ear”, as they had memorized so many calls.

We were stunned–and humbled by God’s goodness–when the boys did win first place in their new age division, beating the 2nd place team by only two birds.

Team “Birds of a Feather” won their age group last year, as well. Their team name will be engraved on the plaque at the base of this trophy for the 2nd year in a row!

It was a great opportunity to encourage the boys that their hard work this year, their perseverance during hot weather, and the efforts of even the youngest team members paid off. Their margin of victory was so slim that every single find mattered, from the difficult to identify warblers to the easy to spot Northern cardinal.

The boys were just as thrilled to be proclaimed the overall winners for fundraising, having raised more money for conservation than any other team in the competition. They have a great desire to see bird habitat protected and restored, and the $500 they raised for the American Bird Conservancy will be used for that purpose.

My boys’ two teammates each won an award for their birding journals, as well. Needless to say, our team was on cloud nine!

My boys are the 1st and 3rd children in this photo. The other two boys have been their teammates for the past 3 years at the Georgia Youth Birding competition.

We were well aware throughout the competition that the boys could not rely on their own strength or their own skill to find birds. Many times we prayed to Jesus, asking him for help not only to find birds but also to work together in a way that brought glory to Him. Our verse for the weekend was Psalm 115:1, which says, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.”

As if this blessing weren’t enough, we arrived home to find a letter telling us that our Bird Garden project was selected as a winner in the Keep [our county] Beautiful contest! Truly, the Lord has poured out His love upon us this week.

We did experience some hilarious moments during the competition, as well. My friend Dawn wrote about one of them in her post Not Exactly What I had in Mind.


  1. Congratulations and to God be the glory! Way to go!

  2. Way to go guys! It’s so nice to see all of your hard work both in the competition and with your bird garden pay off. You are a blessing to some of God’s smallest creatures and you have definitely been an inspiration to myself and our boys as we have started with some simple bird watching and identifying and have set out to create our own bird garden – where we already have a nesting Mama that we are working to ID. Again, Congratulations and to God be the glory!