Mass Audubon's 24th annual Bird-a-thon on Friday, May 18 will give birders a chance to participate in a friendly competition while raising money for the conservation organization's sanctuaries and programs.
The event will take place at 24 of Mass Audubon's 43 sanctuaries around the state, beginning at 6 p.m. on May 18 and ending 24 hours later. Pledges earned through birding - or collected from donors - will go to help protect wildlife.
Locally, the public is invited to join a Bird-a-thon team at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield. The 24-hour timetable allows for flexible, rotating shifts and the chance to locate nocturnal birds.
Sponsors pledge money toward the number of bird species seen by a team during 24 hours, and teams are awarded incentives and prizes in different categories.
To join a team or for more on the event, call the sanctuary at 978-887-9294 or visit www.massaudubon.org/birdathon.
Other Mass Audubon events planned for May:
* Warbler Thursdays: Wake up early and discover the excitement of spring birding from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at one of five local sanctuaries: Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary in Gloucester (Thursday, May 10), Martin Burns Wildlife Management Area in Newbury (Thursday, May 17), Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Thursday, May 24), and Parker River Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport (Thursday, May 31). Advance registration is required. Cost is $10 for Mass Audubon members and $12 for nonmembers. Call 978-887-9265 to register.
* Edible Wild Plant Walk at Old Town Hill (Sunday, May 12, 9 a.m. to noon): Join Russ Cohen, author of "Wild Plants I have Known ... and Eaten," on a walk through Old Town Hill, a Trustees of Reservations property in Newbury. The author and naturalist will lead a group on the search for edible, alien invasives and common native species that can be collected ethically. Advance registration is required. Cost is $17 for Mass Audubon members and $20 for nonmembers. Call 978-887-9265 to register.
* Canoeing for Beginners at Ipswich River sanctuary (Sunday, May 12, 2 to 5 p.m.): This workshop is for beginners or those who want to brush up on their strokes. The class will begin on land and then move to the waters of the Ipswich River for a leisurely paddle. All equipment will be provided. Participants must know how to swim. Advance registration is required. Cost is $20 for Mass Audubon members and $24 for nonmembers. Call 978-887-9265 to register.
* Wildlife Safari - Creatures of the Vernal Pool (Monday, May 21, 10 a.m. to noon): This class is designed for families with children age 5 and older. Participants will learn about the many creatures, such as frogs and salamanders, that depend on vernal pools for survival and view them up close. A walk to Ipswich River's vernal pool is included as well as a short video on the fragile habitat. The program is free but advance registration is required. Call 978-887-9265.