The Christmas bird count is happening now, as the National Audobon Society asks for volunteers to count birds in local areas. This citizen science project has been going on annually for more than one hundred years. Across the country, both expert birders and amateur bird watchers come together in local areas to count numerous species of birds.
In Dixon, New Mexico, the 17th annual bird count took place with both new birders and expert counters. Birds were spotted such as the Cooper’s hawk and American dippers. Nearby Espanola, New Mexico, has been doing the Christmas bird count for 60 years. That means a base of scientific knowledge exists for that city.
The events are free and allow all level of bird watchers, from ornithologists to weekend birders. Those who have more experience can even count birds by their song alone. Many birds are first spotted by their call.
Mendocino County in California hosted an event on December 21st, and will have another on the south coast from Elk to Point Arena on January 4th. It’s a one-day affair, with all the birds in the area being counted. Volunteers who are new at the science project will have a wonderful outdoor experience with birders who have a wealth of knowledge about calls, bird nesting, and where the birds feed.
Ohio birders found many different birds on their count in the Cuyahoga Falls Christmas Bird Count. Of over 50 species, there were four American bald eagles, a barred owl, an Eastern screech-owl, two dozen yellow-rumped warblers, Carolina wrens, golden-crowned kinglets, a great-horned owl, and a red-shouldered hawk to name a few.
Yes, the Christmas Bird Count is happening now and over the winter months. Data will be collected by more than 70,000 citizens.
In Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, a Le Conte’s sparrow was discovered in the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. Plus, snowy owls and a variety of sparrow species. 52 owls in 23 counties were counted. Near Lake Erie’s East 55th Street Marina, Iceland, glaucous and little gulls.
Tens of thousands of participants know that it is also a lot of fun. Data from the over 2,300 circles are entered after the count and become available to query under the Data & Research link.
In olden times, before the bird count, hunters would go out in winter to see how many birds they could kill. Even Audubon Society members used to kill birds for identification purposes. Now it is illegal to kill the birds and counters simply look through binoculars or watch from afar.
Everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it because they are big fans of birds, and love them for the part they play in nature. Those who take part have a little friendly competition to see who can find the most birds. Those who can identify their calls are able to count simply by call and it is not necessary to see the bird.
The Christmas Bird Count is happening now, and birders all across the country are having the time of their lives.
By Lisa M Pickering