Cornell Lab of Ornithology student birders compete to raise funds for undergraduate research.

Cornell Students Chase Fourth World Series of Birding Win

The Redheads compete to raise funds for student research

For release: May 8, 2012
The Redheads (L-R): Brendan Fogarty, Hope Batcheller, Jack Hruska, Ben Barkley, and Eric Gulson. Photo by Jessie Barry
Ithaca, NY—They are talented, energetic, and "totally pumped" for a 24-hour bout of non-stop birding. They are The Redheads—five students representing the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at the 29th annual World Series of Birding competition in New Jersey, on Saturday, May 12, a.k.a. the "Big Day." The goal of any Big Day contest is to identify the most species of birds by sight or sound in 24 hours.

The Redheads (named for Cornell "Big Red" sports teams—and the Redhead duck) have won the Cape May County division of the competition for the past three years. During the World Series, teams raise funds for bird conservation by collecting pledges for each species tallied.

"Funds raised by The Redheads are used for undergraduate expeditions and research projects," explains sophomore Hope Batcheller, team captain. "These endeavors are valuable learning experiences and have made exciting new contributions to our knowledge of bird biology and distribution. Recent projects include an expedition to Peru's Gran Pajonal region, and studies on impacts of the Gulf Coast oil spill. These projects are completely driven by students and would not have been possible without the funds raised by The Redheads."
The Anti-Petrels--birding on the fly. Photo by Gerry Dewaghe
The Cornell Lab is also fielding a team in the Carbon Footprint Challenge division of the World Series. Three Lab staff, called the Anti-Petrels, will bike and bird across Cape May County seeking their third championship in a row. In 2011, they cycled more than 100 miles to tally 144 species. Team member and Cornell Lab science editor Hugh Powell hopes to surpass that total, with a little cooperation from migrants and Mother Nature. No downpours, please.

"Nearly anyone can enjoy this type of birding," Powell says. "You just have to slow your pace a little bit. We keep hoping that we can grow this category and get more people interested in birding by bike, wherever they live."

The public can learn more about the reigning champion Redheads and Anti-Petrels and donate to support bird conservation at, as well as follow the teams' progress during the Big Day on the Cornell Lab's Facebook page.
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. Bob's Red Mill is sponsor of the Anti-Petrels.

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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