Starting this weekend, Inclusion NWT’s usual Gumboot Rally is replaced by a Gumbird Quest: a two-week bird-themed challenge, with prizes, to celebrate the return of spring.
Executive director Lynn Elkin said the focus this year, with an ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, is not fundraising for the non-profit but creating a community event for people of all ages across the NWT.
“If people wish to do some fundraising they’re welcome to, but the focus is really on that community piece,” Elkin said.
Last year, teams brought in $16,500 to support people living with disabilities and their families. If anyone wants to make a donation to Inclusion NWT, Elkin said they can do so through their website.
Inclusion NWT had planned to host a rally again this spring, themed “Birds of a Feather,” where teams would raise money and compete in skill contests like a boot toss and boot bowl-a-thon.
However, physical distancing rules forced the fundraiser to pivot online.
The new challenge, with the same theme has two components for teams of five to complete: an 18-bird scavenger hunt and daily bird missions to be posted to the non-profit’s website and social media channels.
Every bird spotted and recorded (photos, videos, and audio recordings are accepted), and every bird mission completed, gives teams one entry into “early bird draws” throughout the quest.
Events wrap up on May 9. Teams can send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org to enter.
Will you find every bird?
“The idea is to get people out looking for things when they’re out on their walk, or out through their window every day – to have a lot of fun and to learn a little bit more about the birds of Yellowknife,” Elkin said.
Daily bird missions will include things like cooking an egg dish, answering a bird trivia question, or finding a sports jersey with a bird on it.
Yellowknifer and birder Reid Hildebrandt helped Inclusion NWT come up with 18 bird species for residents to find during the quest.
“I wanted to select birds that would get curious people out right at the beginning of the challenge and also at the end,” he said.
“So at the beginning we have birds like ptarmigan that are going to disappear in the next couple days, and then at the end, there’s going to be birds like red-winged blackbirds that show up in the last couple days in the challenge.”
Here is the full list:
- Willow ptarmigan
- Bald eagle
- Common raven
- Sandhill crane
- Snow bunting
- Dark-eyed junco
- House sparrow
- Hairy woodpecker
- Northern flicker
- Tundra swan
- American wigeon
- Common merganser
- California gull
- Eastern phoebe
- Red-winged blackbird
- American robin
- Ruby-crowned kinglet
- Hoary redpoll
Hildebrandt suggested people hoping to spot or hear all 18 birds should visit a variety of habitats.
“Often the low areas and edges of marshes are quite good in spring as birds show up,” he said. “Just keep your eyes and ears open.
“It’s sweet to get more people interested and out looking for and learning about these birds.”
Teams based in Yellowknife can also check out the Yellowknife Bird Arrivals Facebook page, where birders post about the locations of different species.