Hundreds of bird enthusiasts throughout the state, including those on Cape Ann, are invited to try to spot the most species in a 24-hour period during Massachusetts Audubon's annual Bird-athon competition and fundraiser.
The event — which will start at 6 p.m. Friday, May 11, and end at 5:59 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 — is now in its fourth decade. Over the years, it has become a popular celebration of bird life for MassAudubon, New England's largest conservation organization.
Bird-athon 2012 organizers are hoping that supporters surpass last year's remarkable numbers: 270 species spotted and $205,000 raised by more than 630 participants on 26 teams.
The Bird-athon is appropriate for people of all abilities, ages and backgrounds, and is designed to help participants to connect with nature while also raising money to support for MassAudubon's wildlife sanctuaries and programs.
Several prizes will be awarded, including prizes for the most species spotted by a team, the most money raised by a team and the top individual fundraiser.
Those who can't join a team can still participate by pledging money to a team member or by being a "Virtual Birder." Fellow birders and supporters can also keep up with team members during the event on Twitter by following @MassAudubon, hashtag #birdathon.
To join a team, make a donation, see the list of prizes or get more information, visit www.massaudubon.org/birdathon.