St. Croix Valley nature center organizes youth birding-at-home contest

April 18 one-day contest encourages kids to compete to see how many species they can spot in their yard.




3 minute read

Via Carpenter Nature Center:

This year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day while encouraging compliance with state shelter-in-place orders, CNC is shifting the annual Earth Day Birding Festival to an online format.

CNC’s “Safe-at-Home Youth Birding Competition” aims to give youth a FREE, fun opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, observe birds near their homes, enjoy spring and win prizes.

How does it work?

Teams are encouraged to count all species seen and heard within sight of their roof top within 24 hours on April 18th, 2020. Teams can be siblings in one household, or youth who coordinate their species list electronically with friends in another house to create one team. Team age-groups are 10 & under, 11-15 years, and 16-18 years.

Although our festival normally focuses the competition count area in our immediate geographical area, we understand that this year youth cannot travel to the Hastings area due to COVID-19 restrictions. This year youth may participate in the competition if they live, and count birds, outside the Hastings area. If you have a friend or family member in Florida who would like to join your team, all are welcome!

A detailed rules list may be found by clicking here

What am I looking for?

To encourage amateur birders, we are providing checklists of commonly-spotted local birds, which you can access and download by clicking the following links.

Click here to access Minnesota Ornithologist Union’s (MOU’s) Birds of MN Checklist
Click here to access the Hastings Area Birding Festival Official Checklist

In years past, teams have spotted up to 100 different species of birds during the Hastings Area Birding Festival. With the addition of team members outside the Hastings area, we expect this year’s list to showcase a huge range of species! If your count location is outside our local area, you may have luck checking with your local birdwatching organization or department of natural resources. If you are having difficulty finding a check list, please contact and we’ll see what we can do to find you a good species list for your area.

How do I get my prize?

All youth in the first 50 teams to register AND submit a completed bird check list by the next morning (April 19, 2020 at 8 a.m.) will win prizes, whether they observe 1 species, or 100+ species. Participants are encouraged to collect their prizes at CNC AFTER the shelter-in-place order expires which is currently May 4, 2020 in Minnesota. Staff can mail prizes to participants, however the winner’s guardians will need to pay for the shipping costs by credit card.

Prizes currently include bird feeders, bird feeding supplies, bird houses, binoculars, bird-friendly yard guides, etc. Our hope is that if more than 50 teams register, we will be able to recruit additional prizes to award. If you want to donate additional prizes, creative ideas are welcomed and could include gift cards to bird stores, gift certificates for treats for young birders like ice cream, bird coloring books, etc., anything that youth nature enthusiast might enjoy.

How do I sign up?

The online competition is FREE to all participants. Please email with your team name, team location(s), age bracket, and number of team members. Please include an adult guardian’s contact information for coordinating prize distribution. Due to the state shelter-in-place order, there will not be staff at the Nature Center to take phone calls.

Please feel free to contact with any additional questions not answered on this page.

We will also be updating our website throughout the competition to include answers to any other Frequently Asked Questions.


You may republish this article online or in print under our Creative Commons license. You may not edit or shorten the text, you must attribute the article to St. Croix 360 and you must include the author’s name in your republication.

If you have any questions, please email


Creative Commons License Attribution-ShareAlikeCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike
St. Croix Valley nature center organizes youth birding-at-home contest