2012 Carden Challenge

Jean Iron

  Celebrity Birder


24 hours of birding to raise funds to protect the

Carden Alvar

 6 p.m. Friday 25 May to 6 p.m. Saturday 26 May


Few places in Ontario can match the diversity of nesting birds on the Carden Alvar, a globally rare habitat of flat limestone and shallow soils supporting grasslands, shrubs, open forests and wetlands east of Lake Simcoe. In spring, Carden is alive with the songs of over 150 species of breeding birds, making it a mecca for birders from across the province and the world.

I was President of Ontario Field Ornithologists for 9 years, and Editor of OFO News for 14. A retired school principal, I now spend time on the Carden Alvar, do shorebird surveys on James Bay, lead nature tours, and produce photos by digiscoping. I look forward to sharing my passion for the grassland birds of the Carden Alvar through the Carden Challenge.


Many birds are in trouble, especially grassland species such as the endangered Loggerhead Shrike. Now designated as threatened are Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Whip-poor-wills and Common Nighthawks. The Carden Alvar is a stronghold for these species.


I am honoured to be this yearís Celebrity Birder in the seventh annual Carden Challenge on 25 and 26 May because I care about Cardenís grassland birds. The Challenge raises crucial funds to protect bird habitats on the Carden Alvar.


Our team is Eleanor Beagan, Jean Iron, Andrew Keaveney and Ron Reid. We are called the Yellow Rails and will be competing to find the most species in Carden in a 24-hour period, with the winners receiving the Carden Cup. But the real winners are the birds, which benefit from the funds we raise for habitat stewardship on the 8000 acres managed by the Conservancy, and on private lands where work is done in cooperation with landowners.


Your support will ensure that Loggerhead Shrikes, Bobolinks, Vesper Sparrows, Upland Sandpipers and all other Carden birds have protected alvar habitats vital for their future survival in Ontario.


Can I count on you for a pledge? You can pledge a flat amount or an amount per species - we hope to see at least 100 species. If pledging a flat amount, you may send a cheque now. If pledging an amount per species, Iíll let you know how many species we saw during the Carden Challenge and how to submit your donation. Any amount over $20 will receive a charitable tax receipt from the Conservancy.


My website is not set up to receive donations on-line. Please email me jean.iron@sympatico.ca with your pledge. Please then mail your donation cheque to my address below.


Pledge for the Carden Challenge


Please email me with your pledge amount: jean.iron@sympatico.ca


$_______ flat donation or  $_______ per species


If pledging a flat amount, please make cheque payable to The Couchiching Conservancy and mail now to

Jean Iron, 9 Lichen Place, Toronto ON  M3A 1X3 CANADA