The June Challenge

What’s the June Challenge? It’s a much-anticipated way to keep us birding when the migrants have left us for their breeding grounds and the summer doldrums are starting to set in. It’s also a friendly competition and an Alachua County tradition.


Download the June Challenge Checklist as an Excel file that automatically keeps tally or as a PDF.


Results of The June Challenge – 2022

Tim Hardin (left) and Jose-Miguel Ponciano shared the first place prize – possesion of the trophy!

There was a real spirit of adventure in this year’s June Challenge, and it was as much fun to watch as it was to participate in. Tim Hardin had told me in May that he wasn’t planning to push so hard this year, and might even take mid-June off, so to speak, but once in the event he couldn’t help himself. This was probably due to the unrelenting competition he faced, mainly from Jose Miguel Ponciano, a UF biology professor who has rediscovered the joy of birding after 20 years absorbed in math and statistics, and Chris Cattau, a 19th-century explorer-naturalist who has somehow found himself transported into the 21st century, where he works as an ecologist. These and other hard-charging birders seemed to find something new and rare every day, and you could either keep up with them or they’d leave you behind. Birders chasing one rarity invariably seemed to find another. Chris found Black Terns on Newnans Lake and while looking for the Black Terns, Tim found Least Terns and Chris found a Common Loon, and the search for these turned up Common Terns, and so on. The energy and enthusiasm generated by all these rarities was enough to inspire the renting of boats on Lake Santa Fe and Newnans Lake, and the launching of canoes and kayaks at Newnans, Lochloosa, and Orange. It was a veritable birding navy! When the dust cleared, Jose Miguel and Tim had tied for first place with 129, and Chris had come in third with 124. This was Jose Miguel’s first June Challenge. It was Tim’s fourth, but he’s won first place, or tied for first, in the last three of them. They didn’t just win Alachua County, either. They won the state, with the highest total of all 68 birders who submitted a list to the FWC site:

Alachua County birders recorded 132 species this June, and of these Tim and Jose Miguel saw 98%. That may be the highest percentage ever recorded in the Challenge’s history. There were some good birds. Brown Pelicans showed up not just once but three times, at Orange Lake, at Lake Santa Fe, and at Newnans Lake. Ring-necked Duck was found at both Barr Hammock and Orange Lake. Belted Kingfishers were seen in six different places, and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were almost as common. Five species of migratory shorebirds were recorded, including an early-record Spotted Sandpiper at Powers Park on June 30th. Two species of migratory warblers dropped in at the end of the month, a Louisiana Waterthrush at O’Leno and three Black-and-white Warblers, two at San Felasco Hammock and one at the Hatchet Creek Tract. And an amazing six species of terns were recorded, including the best bird of the Challenge, Common Tern. At least two Commons were at Newnans Lake, constituting the first June record for Alachua County. On the other hand, Tumblin Creek Park’s Gray Catbird – discovered by Chris in 2015 – was not found for the first time in eight years, and we missed American Robin for the first time in nine years. Wood Thrush, formerly an uncommon nesting bird at San Felasco and in northwest Gainesville, continues to be missing in action; it was last reported in a remote part of San Felasco on the 2013 Challenge.

We fielded 44 participants this year, about the same as last year. Sadly, we had no entries in the under-16 category. Of the 44, twenty saw 100+ species. Of course the point of The June Challenge is not to win, or to get a big list; the point is to have fun, to get out in the fresh air and sunshine and to see some beautiful birds, and I hope every participant considers himself or herself a winner in that respect.

Thanks for playing! I’ll be back in touch next May!

Rex Rowan

Here are the final standings (in the event of a tie, names are listed alphabetically):

Tim Hardin 129, Jose Miguel Ponciano 129, Chris Cattau 124, Roxy Ohanyan 121, Raci Ulusoy 117, Pelin Karaca 116, Anne Casella 113, Stephanie Hornbuckle 111, Bob Carroll 109, Tina Greenberg 109, Glenn Israel 109, Rex Rowan 109, Debbie Segal 109, Marie Zeglen 107, Howard Adams 104, Eric Link 104, Brent Henderson 103, Becky Enneis 102, John Martin 102, Meredith Kite 101, Hanna Radcliffe 98, Danielle Zukowski 98, Brad Hall 96, Maggie Paxson 96, Darrell Hartman 95, Sue Hartman 95, Wendy Seale 94, Barbara Shea 94, Matt Hitchings 92, Matt Bruce 88, Erin Kalinowski 87, Jason Chen 84, Linda Holt 84, Bob Knight 83, Tom Wronski 83, Ellen Frattino 80, Austin Gregg 80, Jen Munley 80, Rick Wolf 79, Sara Palmi  76, Oscar Calinescu 74, Eric Amundson 71, Pratibha Singh 65, Autumn Rose 62.

And here’s the complete list of the 132 bird species reported during this year’s Challenge:

  1. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Muscovy Duck
  4. Wood Duck
  5. Blue-winged Teal
  6. Mallard
  7. Mottled Duck
  8. Ring-necked Duck
  9. Northern Bobwhite
  10. Wild Turkey
  11. Pied-billed Grebe
  12. Rock Pigeon
  13. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  14. Common Ground Dove
  15. White-winged Dove
  16. Mourning Dove
  17. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  18. Common Nighthawk
  19. Chuck-will’s-widow
  20. Chimney Swift
  21. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  22. King Rail
  23. Common Gallinule
  24. American Coot
  25. Purple Gallinule
  26. Purple Swamphen
  27. Limpkin
  28. Sandhill Crane
  29. Whooping Crane
  30. Black-necked Stilt
  31. Killdeer
  32. White-rumped Sandpiper
  33. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  34. Spotted Sandpiper
  35. Solitary Sandpiper
  36. Greater Yellowlegs
  37. Laughing Gull
  38. Least Tern
  39. Caspian Tern
  40. Black Tern
  41. Common Tern
  42. Forster’s Tern
  43. Royal Tern
  44. Common Loon
  45. Wood Stork
  46. Anhinga
  47. Double-crested Cormorant
  48. American White Pelican
  49. Brown Pelican
  50. Least Bittern
  51. Great Blue Heron
  52. Great Egret
  53. Snowy Egret
  54. Little Blue Heron
  55. Tricolored Heron
  56. Cattle Egret
  57. Green Heron
  58. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  59. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  60. White Ibis
  61. Glossy Ibis
  62. Roseate Spoonbill
  63. Black Vulture
  64. Turkey Vulture
  65. Osprey
  66. Swallow-tailed Kite
  67. Cooper’s Hawk
  68. Bald Eagle
  69. Mississippi Kite
  70. Snail Kite
  71. Red-shouldered Hawk
  72. Broad-winged Hawk
  73. Short-tailed Hawk
  74. Red-tailed Hawk
  75. Barn Owl
  76. Eastern Screech-Owl
  77. Great Horned Owl
  78. Burrowing Owl
  79. Barred Owl
  80. Belted Kingfisher
  81. Red-headed Woodpecker
  82. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  83. Downy Woodpecker
  84. Northern Flicker
  85. Pileated Woodpecker
  86. American Kestrel
  87. Great Crested Flycatcher
  88. Eastern Kingbird
  89. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  90. Acadian Flycatcher
  91. White-eyed Vireo
  92. Yellow-throated Vireo
  93. Red-eyed Vireo
  94. Loggerhead Shrike
  95. Blue Jay
  96. American Crow
  97. Fish Crow
  98. Carolina Chickadee
  99. Tufted Titmouse
  100. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  101. Purple Martin
  102. Barn Swallow
  103. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  104. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  105. Carolina Wren
  106. Brown Thrasher
  107. Northern Mockingbird
  108. European Starling
  109. Eastern Bluebird
  110. House Sparrow
  111. House Finch
  112. Bachman’s Sparrow
  113. Eastern Towhee
  114. Yellow-breasted Chat
  115. Eastern Meadowlark
  116. Orchard Oriole
  117. Red-winged Blackbird
  118. Brown-headed Cowbird
  119. Common Grackle
  120. Boat-tailed Grackle
  121. Louisiana Waterthrush
  122. Black-and-white Warbler
  123. Prothonotary Warbler
  124. Common Yellowthroat
  125. Hooded Warbler
  126. Northern Parula
  127. Pine Warbler
  128. Yellow-throated Warbler
  129. Summer Tanager
  130. Northern Cardinal
  131. Blue Grosbeak
  132. Indigo Bunting


Results of The June Challenge – 2020

By Rex Rowan, July 2020 –

The 2020 June Challenge was … well, I’ll defer to Mitch Walters, who posted this on the Alachua County Birding Facebook page: “The year 2020 hasn’t been the best year, in fact, it’s been the literal worst. But June 2020 was arguably the best month of birding I’ve ever experienced in my six or seven years in Gainesville. It’s been so much fun participating in the June Challenge, not only because of all the birds I’ve seen, but also because of all the lovely people I’ve connected with along the way. Whether it’s slogging through 200 yards of wet, gator-growling prairie to see a Yellow-breasted Chat or spotlighting four different species of owl one evening at La Chua, it’s been quite the adventure and the perfect escape from all the craziness enveloping our country. Congrats to the winners and thank you ALL for making this month a bright spot in a year full of darkness. Stay safe and keep birding!”
Possibly because it offered an enjoyable alternative to the COVID-19 lockdown, this year’s June Challenge seemed to inspire extra enthusiasm. We had 51 participants, the most ever, and nearly half of them saw 100 or more species. Our two winners, Tim Hardin and Jacob Ewert, aimed at setting a new record. They would have done it, too, if Mother Nature had cooperated, if there’d been a tropical storm to blow in a few more coastal species or a drought that encouraged shorebirds to linger. As it was, they saw 124 species, which amounted to 97% of the cumulative total reported during the month. Chris Cattau was just a few steps behind them with 121 species, which would have been the winning total during thirteen of the sixteen previous Challenges. We had only two entries from younger birders this year, from Nora Parks-Church and Owen Parks-Church (who are obviously being raised right!), so they’re the winners in the Youth part of the contest. All five winners will receive gift certificates, and Tim and Jacob will each get to take home the June Challenge trophy for half of the coming year.
Our Challengers found 128 species of birds, including a few late spring migrants (including American Redstart and Bank Swallow on June 3rd), the earliest southbound Louisiana Waterthrush ever recorded in the county on June 19th, and a selection of coastal strays, including two different Brown Pelicans and Caspian, Forster’s, and Sandwich Terns. Our only Big Misses this time were Hairy Woodpecker, which is always hard to find, and Wood Thrush, which hasn’t been recorded on the Challenge since 2012 and may no longer be resident in Alachua County.

Tied for first place, winners Tim Hardin (left) and Jacob Ewert take home stained glass artwork skillfully created and graciously donated
by Stephanie Haas and Jeffrey Hillman.

Here’s the complete list of participants and their totals: Jacob Ewert 124; Tim Hardin 124; Chris Cattau 121; Ben Fick 113; Marie Zeglen 113; Jason O’Connor 112; Tina Greenberg 111; Jerry Pruitt 111; Darrell Hartman 110; Sue Hartman 110; Mitch Walters 110; Anne Casella 109; Rex Rowan 109; Howard Adams 107; Craig Parenteau 107; Ship Mallard 104; Bob Carroll 103; Ben Ewing 103; Sam Ewing 103; Danny Shehee 103; Pratibha Singh 102; Phil Laipis 101; Alicia Conrad 100; Christopher Esposito 100; Erin Kalinowski 99; Cat Lippi 99; Rob Norton 96; Barbara Woodmansee 96; Becky Enneis 95; Frank Goodwin 91; Matt Bruce 90; Debbie Segal 90; Carol Ward 88; Dean Ewing 87; Brad Hall 86; Barbara Shea 85; Paul Kroeger 84; Tom Wronski 83; Min Zhao 83; John Martin 82; Bob Knight 80; Austin Gregg 77; Geoff Parks 67; Jennifer Donsky 66; Glenn Israel 62; Emily Schwartz 59; Nora Parks-Church 52; Owen Parks-Church 43; Bill Enneis 42; Sue Ann Enneis 42; Jon Graham 42.

Results of The June Challenge 2019

By Rex Rowan, July 2019 – The 2019 June Challenge wrapped up with a party at the home of Becky Enneis, who founded the contest in 2004. Winners were announced, prizes were given, good food was eaten, conversation was enjoyed, and we finished … Continue reading 


Results of The June Challenge – 2016

By Rex Rowan, July 2016 – This year’s June Challenge attracted 42 participants, down from 46 last year and 50 in 2014. However a few birders who chased around enthusiastically at the beginning of the month and probably had totals in the vicinity of 100 species … Continue reading 


Results of The June Challenge – 2014

From: Rex Rowan <> July 3, 2014 – Greetings from New York! I’m visiting my son here in the absurdly beautiful village of Sackets Harbor at the east end of Lake Ontario, a place so small that it doesn’t … Continue reading 


The June Challenge 2014 – Alachua County Results

From: Rex Rowan <> To: Alachua County birding report Huh. I guess summer’s already over. I escorted visiting Clay County birders Martha Fethe and Jan Morgan out to see a Prothonotary Warbler today. We started at the Lake Alto Preserve, … Continue reading 

The 2013 June Challenge in Alachua County … and Beyond!

By Rex Rowan, July 2013 – The massive June Challenge trophy has a new home. Despite being a relative newcomer to Alachua County and spending the first week of the month in Maine, Jonathan Mays beat everyone else to … Continue reading