Cornell Lab of Ornithology teams excel at the World Series of Birding and raise funds for conservation and student research.

Cornell Birding Team Bikes to 164-Species Victory
World Series of Birding win raises funds for conservation

For release: May 16, 2012
The Anti-Petrels (L-R): Hugh Powell, France Dewaghe, and Charles Eldermire. Photo by Benjamin Clock
Ithaca, NY—Pedal power drove the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Anti-Petrels birding team to a third consecutive championship in the 29th annual World Series of Birding in New Jersey on May 12. The team of three Cornell Lab staff cranked out 102 miles by bike and tallied 164 species in 24 hours to win the Carbon Footprint Challenge division.

Dozens of teams compete in this annual “Big Day” event to raise money for bird conservation, each vying to tally the highest number of bird species in a midnight-to-midnight run across all or part of the state. Despite two flat tires along the way, team members say the weather was ideal and a miracle of good timing produced a flood of new migrants that showed up overnight just in time for the Big Day itself.  

“Everybody had this glow of excitement,” says Anti-Petrels team member Hugh Powell. “Some people said it was the best day of birding they’d ever had, and it just so happened it was during the World Series.” Teams birding the entire state of New Jersey (using any form of transportation) tallied more than 200 species. The cumulative total for all teams was 260 species.

The Redheads (L-R): Brendan Fogarty, Hope Batcheller, Eric Gulson, Jack Hruska, and Ben Barkley. Hope and Ben dyed their hair red for the occasion! Photo by Mary Batcheller
The Cornell Lab’s student team, the Redheads, also shot to the front of the pack and finished second overall in the Cape May County category. The team tallied 168 species during their run and was equally dazzled by the wealth of migrating warblers. There were “five or ten warblers in every bush,” says team captain, sophomore Hope Batcheller.

“The event was fabulous!” agrees Cornell junior Jack Hruska. “I feel we met all our expectations, and had some awesome birds. The Long-eared Owl, and a Dickcissel found by Brendan were definitely highlights for me.”

Every species found helped the team raise funds for undergraduate research and conservation projects thanks to donors. Carl Zeiss Sports Optics provided binoculars for use by the student team and Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods sponsored the Anti-Petrels.
Note: The members of the 2012 Redheads are sophomore Hope Batcheller, junior Jack Hruska, and freshmen Ben Barkley, Eric Gulson, and Brendan Fogarty. The members of the Anti-Petrels are Cornell Lab staff France Dewaghe, Charles Eldermire, and Hugh Powell.

Media Contact:
Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab, (607) 254-2137,

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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