Introducing the Big Day teams’ starting lineups

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Two teams of hotshot Wisconsin birders, Curlew & Screech and Cleopatra & the Stilts, are set to go head-to-head in a friendly competition to see the most bird species over the same 24-hour period. Both Great Wisconsin Birdathon teams are carefully planning their routes, buffing their binos, studying their field guides and watching the weather ahead of the main event, which will take place sometime between May 17 and May 20. Support your favorite team and bird conservation throughout the state by pledging 10 cents for every bird species the team finds! Donors who pledge 10 cents per bird or give a single donation of at least $20 to either team will be entered in a drawing to win a $250 Eagle Optics gift certificate or one of six Birdwatching Magazine subscriptions.

Curlew & Screech
Think they’ve got what it takes to win? MAKE A DONATION TO CURLEW & SCREECH

This is the team to beat. For the last 13 years Curlew & Screech has held the state record for most bird species observed over 24 hours at a whopping 230. They’ll be following their record-setting route and will be equipped with the wisdom of  years of field experience.

Team captain: Al Shea
Additional team members: Randy Hoffman
Most birds found: 230
Route: The two will follow their original path in south-central Wisconsin, starting at Sun Prairie at midnight, moving north to Buena Vista before dawn, on to the Cranmoor, Bear Bluff and Sandhill areas before heading to the Baraboo Hills region, Dane and Columbia counties and ending the day at Horicon Marsh.
Message for Cleopatra & the Stilts: “As Master Po might tell his student Caine, ‘choose wisely grasshopper.’ Your route to find shorebirds will determine your success.”

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Cleopatra & the Stilts
Think they’ve got what it takes to win? MAKE A DONATION TO CLEOPATRA & THE STILTS

They may be the underdogs, but Cleopatra & the Stilts is a formidable trio. They’ve averaged about 183 birds in 24 hours between the three of them and bring a digital savviness that could help put them in the lead.

Team captain: Tom Prestby
Additional team members: Cynthia Bridge and Quentin Yoerger
Most birds found: 193
Route: Their path will start at midnight in the marshes of Marquette and Green Lake counties, wind through the grasslands of Mt. Horeb at dawn, move up to Spring Green to work the Wisconsin River corridor east to Columbia County and will likely end in Sheboygan.
Message for Curlew & Screech: “Two hundred and thirty is an amazing record but how will that route measure up after more than a decade of range shifts and other changes? Curlew and Screech had the genius of inventing their record-winning route, but we have the field experience and savviness to construct our own route.”

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You can follow the main event live on Twitter using the hashtag #BigDayWI. The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin will be tweeting with Curlew & Screech, while the Madison Audubon Society will be out following Cleopatra & the Stilts.