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Birding and Biodiversity Marathon to support avar habitats and conservation efforts

This year marks the 20th Annual Carden Challenge, which aims to raise $38,000.

This story is made possible through the support of Housser's Paint and Wallpaper as part of OrilliaMatters' Community Leaders Program

Count species, raise money and protect nature in the upcoming annual Carden Challenge.

Created by the Couchiching Conservancy, the May 24-25 event is a birding and biodiversity marathon in which teams head to the Carden Alvar or their own backyard to find as many species as possible in 24 hours.

“But the Carden Challenge is not just about exploration; it’s about making a difference,” the Couchiching Conservancy states. Every dollar raised empowers the Conservancy to protect more alvar habitats, a globally imperilled ecosystem.

Strengthening efforts to safeguard the alvar habitat — located east of Orillia and northwest of Lindsay — includes removing invasive species, monitoring water quality and species, and maintaining trails.


In 2023, participants counted 236 species, and the money raised went towards protecting the 417-acre Deverell-Morton Nature Reserve, stewarding and managing over 10,000 acres, grassland bird surveys, maintaining trails, controlling invasive species, monitoring at-risk-species with volunteers and more.

Teams will pick from four categories. For those who count more than 100 bird species, the competitive category is likely the one for them. Recreation is for teams who like to count species at a leisurely pace, biodiversity is for those who count everything and want the trophy, and hybrid has no maximum team members.

Last year’s prizes included binoculars donated by 4 Directions Conservation Consulting Services, a cabinscape stay, prize packages, and an XL colouring page from Gillian Lowry Art.

This year marks the 20th Annual Carden Challenge, which aims to raise $38,000. To join the challenge, email Tanya Clark at [email protected]. For more information, visit the Carden Challenge homepage.