Champions of the Flyway 2020 – Principles and Official Race Rules


Champions of the Flyway is an international bird race that challenges the norm. Its primary purpose is to celebrate the extraordinary miracle of bird migration.

Champions of the Flyway is also a race run for conservation. All teams are competing to raise the greatest amount of conservation funding.

We expect healthy competition but shun suppression. We encourage the sharing of information, sites, birds and team updates during the day. By sharing we are enabling all of the teams to enjoy the maximum number of sightings during the twenty-four hour period.

The Champions of the Flyway title will be awarded to the team recording the highest number of species. 

The Guardians of the Flyway title will be awarded to the team that generates the most funding for this year’s conservation action project: helping to stem the catastrophic decline in the Rift Valley vulture populations.

The Knights of the Flyway title is awarded to the team which does the most to promote the cause and helps others to see the most birds and get the most enjoyment out of the event.

Official Rules


The following rules establish the standards and practices under which all Champions of the Flyway bird race team members are expected to participate. All participants must familiarize themselves with The Champions of the Flyway – Official Race Rules and comply with them fully in order to compete. Failure to do so will lead to team penalties or disqualification.

1.    Team Rules

1.1.   Teams must consist of at least three pre-registered members and use a single vehicle throughout the race.

1.2. Each team must nominate a captain at registration.

1.3. Teams can utilize designated drivers who will not be considered team members. Drivers cannot identify birds for the team, their job is to drive.

1.4. Team members need to remain together for the whole 24-hour period. Team members can leave the team for reasons or health or fatigue and if they do they cannot rejoin the team during the 24 hour period. Teams must be comprised of at least three team members in the field at all times.

1.5. Any number of non-birding participants may also join the teams (media, friends etc) but these participants may not assist the team in any way with the location or identification of birds.

2.     Counting Species

2.1. All teams will be issued with the official COTF race check list at the starting line. Teams can use draft lists during the day but must hand in the official complete list at the finish line. 2.2. Each species logged can be either seen or heard but must be conclusively identified by all team members.

2.3. It is not necessary for all team members to record the same individual bird. If two team members hear a Bee-eater and a third member does not, BUT manages to see or hear a Bee-eater later in the day, then Bee-eater can be counted.

2.4. When in the field, participating team members must stay within ‘hearing distance’ of each other at all times. Hearing distance is defined as unamplified shouting range.

2.5. Teams are entitled to add species which are not on the official COTF checklist. These species are “write ins” and will require proof. Proof is either a photo or getting another team “on the bird”

2.6. Teams are expected to report any “write-in” species or rarities in real time during the race. These sightings can be reported on the COTF Whatsapp group or to the race organizers. .

2.7. To minimize disturbance to nesting birds, teams that know the location of nests can only count the observation if all team members observe the bird together and for no longer than five minutes.

2.8.The flushing of birds from nest sites or cavities in order to get an identifiable look is not allowed and will lead to disqualification. This applies for both the scouting period and during the race.

Folks, please use your head, the primary interest of all teams involved is the welfare of the birds and adding another species or two to the list is not worth disturbing the birds.

3.    Time

3.1.   The race begins on March 31st, 2020 at 00:00 and ends exactly 24 hours later.

3.2. All registered competing team captains must submit their final official team checklists (signed by each team member) by midnight on March 31st, 2020. The final team score will be determined only after confirmation of the list by the judging panel.

4.    Geographic Area 

4.1. Only birds seen within the defined  “playing field” can be counted. Details of the playing field boundaries can be found in “The Race Playing field” section above.

4.2. Birds seen on the Red Sea or in the Gulf of Eilat may be counted as long as the observers are standing on the beach in Eilat.

4.3. For the first time in 2018 teams can choose to start at 2 different start lines from midnight.

1. The Eilat Birdwatching Park – southern edge of the field

2. The Tlalim junction gas station (Ramat Negev regional council) – northern tip of the playing field.

4.4 The race finish line is at The Eilat Birdwatching Park and will be open from 19:00. All teams must be back at this finish line by midnight on March 26th, 2018. No exception will be made to this rule. Teams that are late will be penalized by 1 species for every 5 minutes they are late!

5.    Travel

5.1.   Race Teams may use only vehicles labelled with official COTF logos and flags.

5.2. All teams must abide with Israel’s driving laws. The organizers take no responsibility for any legal issues you might encounter on the road (speeding etc).

6.    Judges

6.1.   The Judging Panel consists of the following members of the Champions of the Flyway organizing Committee.

  • Dan Alon
  • Jonathan Meyrav
  • Itai Shanni

6.2. The decision of the Judging Panel will be final in all matters.

6.3. All category awards will be announced during the COTF closing Ceremony on 1st April 2020.

Important Dos and Don’ts

  • Call playback is strictly prohibited throughout the race, pishing and manmade imitations are allowed.
  • The use of Walkie Talkies and GPS devices is allowed.
  • The use of spotlights is forbidden, only car headlights!
  • Teams cannot visit the K20 Salt pools at night!
  • For the birds’ sake, Teams cannot visit the Lichtenstien’s Sandgrouse drinking spot during race day!

See you at the starting line!