2017 Quick Stats


Species Seen

Funds Raised

The Winners

  • Winning Competitive team: Lawrence’s Warbler Chasers – 126 sp.
  • Winning Low-carbon team: Terns and Conditions – 65 species
  • Winning Recreational Team: Birds R Us – 117 species
  • Winning Collegiate Division: SUNY ESF Ptarmageddon – 62 species
  • Winning Family/Mentor team: MAC Daddy and the Chicks – 82 sp.
  • Winning Photo team: Shutterbirds – 65 species

Most memorable team birds

Merlin, Am. Golden Plover, Am. Bittern, Horned Lark, Sandhill Crane, Green Heron, Barred Owl, American Pipit, Bobolink, Northern Parula

New species


Notable Species NOT seen

Snow goose, Ruffed Grouse, Eastern Kingbird, Baltimore Oriole, Black-bellied Plover, Chimney Swift

Species Counts

  • Warbler species recorded: 20
  • Shorebird species recorded: 18
  • 21 species seen by all teams; 23 seen by only 1 team

Download This Year’s Muckrace Musings

The Montezuma Muckrace is a team-birding fundraising event that started back in 1997 and continues to challenge and entertain birders in the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. On Friday September 15th at 7:00 pm, 90 birders from 25 teams stormed the Complex for a 24-hour period and successfully rustled up good looks at a diverse mix of 173 species. Tallies included 20 warblers, 13 species of waterfowl and 18 shorebirds.

Muckracers also continue to step up their fundraising efforts. As of this writing, we have surpassed our goal of raising $10,000 in support of bird conservation, habitat improvement and public access in the Complex. Sponsorships of the event have also been strong from community and conservation minded companies and individuals. Over $2,300 in funds from 11 sponsors and $4,000 in prizes were donated.

A pair of calling Sandhill Cranes flying over the Montezuma Audubon Center 1 minute after the clock ticked 7:00 on Friday night was a highlight for many teams. A Merlin snagging a swallow was also unforgettable. Several teams ran into massive flocks of swallows working fields and marshes. A good look at an American Bittern, and, of course mini blueberry muffins were highlights for the Chemung Valley Audubon sponsored “Tanagers”. An outstanding thrush fallout was noted by several teams that braved the early morning mist on Howland’s Island. American Golden Plover, Barred Owl, a last-minute Horned Lark, an American Pipit that brought to a total of 150 species tallied at the Old Duck Inn property in Clyde, and Northern Parula were mentioned as favorite birds.

The teams collectively identified 100 bird species that have been seen in every Muckrace. Only two species were missed that had been perennially claimed – Chimney Swift and Black-bellied Plover. While no new species were added this year -- Cattle Egret, Common Goldeneye, and Fish Crow were relatively rare pickups. The most commonly seen birds (seen by all 25 teams) totaled 21 species in all, and included notable finds of Great Egret, Green Heron, and Greater Yellowlegs.

Competition among teams is one enjoyable part of the event. Besides a better choice of cool prizes, you can also take home bragging rights; maybe even get your name on one of the 3 Muckrace trophies. A new team, “Lawrence’s Warbler Chasers” took home top honors in the Competitive Division with 126 species. Sharped-shinned hawk, Baird’s Sandpiper, Greater Black-backed Gull, Least Flycatcher, Purple Martin, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Nighthawk, Lincoln’s Sparrow and Purple Finch were some of their rarer finds. A very strong 117 species were identified by the RBA/GVA sponsored “Birds R Us” team, last year’s winners in the Youth Division, and competing for their first time in the Recreation Division. The Low Carbon Division was won again by “Terns and Conditions”. The “Shutterbird(s)”, with Mark Miller running solo this year, took home the honor of Photo Division Champion(s). “Team Sittidae” has a commanding lead, once again, for the most prestigious, highly-coveted Fundraising Trophy. Congratulations also to Family/Mentor Division winners “MAC Daddy and the Chicks” and “Ptarmageddon” from SUNY ESF who took home the Collegiate Division Trophy to be displayed prominently back in Illick Hall.

Top business sponsors for this year’s event were:

  • Wild Birds Unlimited
  • Nucor Steel
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Ernst Conservation Seeds
  • Seneca Meadows
  • Eagle Optics
  • Over 30 additional sponsors provided funds and prizes.

Teams have until October 15th to do their pledge drives. Donations on behalf of any team, or for the Muckrace in general, can be made through the Friends of Montezuma website or via mail at Friends of Montezuma, c/o Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, 3395 Rt 5 & 20 East, Seneca Falls, NY 13148.

Top 6 fundraising teams for last year were:

  1. Team Sittidae ($1,922)
  2. Bobolinks ($900)
  3. Hawkeyes ($782)
  4. Wind Birders ($600)
  5. Arrogant Bustards ($560)
  6. DEC Crane-iacs ($465)

In the 21-year Muckrace history, over $143,000 has been donated in support of bird habitat restoration, research or public access. Recent projects have included: a touch screen display at the Montezuma Audubon Center highlighting habitat restoration, removal of invasive plants and replacement with wildflowers for pollinators at the Refuge Visitor Center, improvement of water level management on a 448-acre impoundment, construction of several observation decks, Motus Radio Telemetry deployment, and support for American Black Duck winter banding.

If you’d like to start making plans for next year’s Muckrace – of course you would! – Reserve the 14th and 15th of September, 2018. Enjoy the great camaraderie, time afield, and support the good work of the Friends of Montezuma Wetlands Complex. We know ‘birding’ is a great life-long pastime; make birding the Muckrace the same. For more information on the Muckrace and the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, check out our various websites: Friends of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, Montezuma Audubon Center, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area.