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For Release: Wednesday, November 27, 2019

DEC Announces Winners of "I Bird NY" Challenges

Program Sharpens Focus on Plight of Birds and Helps Engage the Public to Become Environmental Stewards

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the four top winners of DEC's annual I Bird NY challenges for beginner and experienced birders. I Bird NY was launched by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2017 to celebrate New York's natural resources and promote low-cost outdoor recreation opportunities people can enjoy near where they live.

"With the recent focus on the decline of North American songbirds over the past 40 to 50 years, now is an excellent time to raise awareness and build support for the Empire State's tremendous birdlife," Commissioner Seggos said. "I congratulate everyone who participated and hope the I Bird NY challenges are building an even stronger love of birding here in New York."

DEC announced the annual I Bird NY Beginner's Birding Challenge in May and encouraged children 16 years of age and younger to identify 10 common New York bird species. DEC also offered the I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge, requiring birders of all ages to identify at least 10 of 50 listed bird species found across New York State. The two I Bird NY challenges encourage New York residents and visitors to watch birds at any time of year. Birdwatching is easy and fun. Whether at the beach or in the forest, or simply with a backyard birdfeeder, birdwatching can be enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.

Participants in these challenges receive a certificate of participation, an official I Bird NY bracelet, and are entered into a drawing for birding accessories. Four winners were chosen at random from the entries received. The winners are:

Beginner's Challenge
Saige Myers (Grafton, NY)
Ethan Buckley (Hammondsport, NY)

Experienced Challenge
Kevin Skrzynski (Lackawanna, NY)
Marcy Gordon (Whitehall, NY)

Prizes include essential birding equipment, including a spotting scope and binoculars, and were awarded at random to the winners. All winners received birding journals to keep track of their sightings.

With 47 million birders in the United States, bird watching is one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and experiences in any community. According to a 2011 survey by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife watching contributed $4.2 billion to New York's economy.

DEC expects to announce new I Bird NY birding challenges in the spring of 2020.

Under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Adventure NY initiative, DEC is making strategic investments to expand access to healthy, active, outdoor recreation; connect more New Yorkers and visitors to nature and the outdoors; protect natural resources; and boost local economies. Read more about the Adventure NY initiative on DEC's website.

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