YMOS is a subgroup of the Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS) and was established to make the world of birds accessible to school age youth. The group supports youth birding throughout the State of Maryland by:

  • Facilitating communication among youth birders throughout the State
  • Providing opportunities for young birders to get started in birding and to help develop their skills
  • Providing educators with resources and opportunities to implement programs

Specific Programs and Activities of YMOS include:

  1. The Youth Backpack Program – Each year YMOS provides each of the Maryland Ornithological Society (MOS) chapters with a backpack to be distributed to a deserving youth in their area. Each chapter decides how to award the backpack. The backpack contains binoculars, field guides, a lens pen, and free membership to a local MOS chapter for the year. For more information for your specific chapter, consult the chapter president. These are found on the MOS website.
  2. Youth Trips – While each chapter runs its own field trips, and youth are always welcome on these, YMOS runs a series of trips throughout the year for youth only. These are always listed both on the website and the YMOS Facebook page. See the trips link above.
  3. World Series of Birding – YMOS also supports a team of Maryland youth at the World Series of Birding. This international birding event in Cape May, NJ in early May each year, although disguised  as a competition, actually raises money for bird conservation worldwide. It is a fantastic learning venue for student participants, and any student is welcome to apply. See the World Series of Birding link above.
  4. Summer Birding Program – Each June YMOS co-sponsors with Washington College a week long summer programs for both educators and youth.  The program provides opportunities for both educators and youth to learn birding skills, how to use technology to access, collect, and report data.  All educators and students incoming to grades 7 – 12 may apply. Details and application information are found at the Summer Program link above.

MOS Website – www.mdbirds.org

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World Series of Birding

Cape May, NJ
May 6, 2017
Each year YMOS sends at least one team into competition at the World Series of Birding in Cape May, NJ. This competition is one of the premier ornithological events in the world and attracts some of the best birders around. Our team participates in the youth competition. The event is actually primarily a major fund raiser for bird conservation and research; so, although competitive, learning and sharing are paramount.
Our teams this year will include:
1) a middle school team, which will stay in the southern area of the state.
2) a Carbon-Free Team, which will do all birding from a bicycle on Cape Island beginning at 5 AM.
3) 2 high school teams, which will bird the whole state of New Jersey, birding Sussex County until 9 AM and then moving south to get the southern birds in the 2nd half of the day.
Each team spends 3 days scouting birds in the area prior to the Big Day. On Saturday each team has 24 hours to identify, by sight and/or sound, as many species as possible. The top adult teams that search the whole State of New Jersey regularly find approx. 200 species on their Big Day. Our youth teams staying more local to Cape May County can exceed 150 species. In 2010 we decided to limit ourselves to Cape May proper (Cape Island) and recorded 133 species, just 20 species less than the top adult team covering that area. The last 2 years, our high school team has achieved the top overall total in the competition with 216 species found in 2015.
All are welcome to apply to be on the teams. In the past we have fielded both middle and high school level teams, and even elementary teams participate. A team must consist of at least 3 members and have an adult driver. Each team will be assigned an adult coach.Prior experience is NOT necessary, just a desire to learn. If interested email George Radcliffe at radclifg@gmail.com.
Team members usually participate in a couple of the YMOS field trips and accompany the group on the 3 Cape May scouting days in May. The group uses a March Birdathon each year to raise money for the 5-day May trip, and costs to each team member are minimal. Parents are always welcome to accompany us.

Schedule of Activities for our teams

Mon, May 1 – Some All-State team members will start scouting the North area of the State.

Weds, May 3, 5 AM – Remainder depart Maryland for New Jersey – We’ll coordinate meeting places when we see where the team members are coming from. We’ll scout northern locations (Atlantic City and south) this day.

Thurs, May 4 – all day – We’ll scout Cape May County this day and begin to plan our Big Day stategy. That evening we’ll attend the Swap Meet with the other teams to share bird sightings. This is as much a cooperative venture as a competitive event.

Fri, May 5 – Scouting Cape Island and ocean areas; plan itinerary, and early to bed.

Sat, May 6 – The Big Day – up to 24 hours to identify by sight or sound as many species as possible. We’ll begin about 1 AM with a search for owls and rails and should conclude by about 9 or 10 PM. There will be a huge meal at the check-in location where we’ll watch the results and meet/share with other teams.

Sun, May 7 – 8:30 AM – Awards Ceremony and Brunch. We’ll leave Cape May after the brunch and be back in Maryland by 3 – 4 PM.

For more information, check out the official New Jersey Audubon World Series of Birding website.
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Summer Program


Field Research in the World of Birds

A Program for Maryland Students Grades 7 – 12

Canceled for 2017; hoping to get it back in operation for 2018.



Program Overview

Birds, aside from being a fascinating part of the natural world, provide a critical insight into the quality of different habitats in the environment. They are the best bioindicators of the quality of our environment and are a major focus of research in every country on our planet.

There are a number of research projects where student involvement is essential. Using GIS technology to map and simple field strategies, anyone can help collect data and further research. Students will work in the field with scientists and other students learning how to identify birds by ear and by habitat, map breeding areas and nest boxes with GPS and GIS technology, and initiate actual research projects.

During the week, participants will both work in the field and classroom with trained ornithologists and researchers. They will both collect and learn to access the numerous available data sources.

The program is being offered to both adults and students going into Grades 7 – 12. Both groups will work together in the field but will be offered different experiences in the classroom. Students will learn the basics of ornithology, use GIS and GPS, and see how to access eBird to download and upload data.

Students need not have any birding experience, but should have a love of nature and the outdoors. A considerable amount of time will be spent in the field in a variety of habitats from upland forests to swamps and marshes. All participants will receive a field guide and other materials.


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