Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | December 17, 2012

‘Tis the Season (for Christmas Bird Counts)

This weekend marked the beginning of the Christmas Bird Counts which will last through January 5, 2013!

What is a Christmas Bird count, you ask?

Birders wake up early, grab binoculars and brave the elements to spend the day counting birds – a census if you will. The information is compiled by region and sent to national compilers who use the data to track trends in bird species population.

I was fortunate enough to participate in the Fyke Nature Association’s Christmas Bird Count this weekend – we birded approximately 11 hours, and tallied every species we could find for our assigned area. From House Sparrows (250+) to Pine Siskins at Lorrimer’s feeders to the highlight of the day, an amazing female White-winged Crossbill sitting on a bare tree at the Celery Farm.

Some surprises: No Pigeons (despite trying for them at places they typically are,) no Mockingbirds, low numbers of Blue Jays, etc…

When we reported to our compiler, we saw similar trends as well with other “counting circles.”

What does this all mean? Perhaps there is a shift in food source or conditions? As the numbers are compiled for other areas and other days, trends will emerge and tell as story!

This data has been compiled since 1900 when ornithologist Frank M. Chapman proposed that people go and count birds on the holidays as an alternative to the tradition of Christmas “Side Hunts” where competitors would go and see who could return with the most shot birds.

That first Bird Count, 27 birders from all over the US and Canada counted 90 species, and the tradition continues to grow over a century later.

The compiled results are published and made available to participants and enthusiasts who thumb through the report to see the trends and drool over rarities and vagrants that are reported.

For more information on Christmas Bird Counts or to find out how you can participate in one (you can help by giving any amount of time), visit http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count

Good Birding (and counting!!)

From feeder....

From feeder….

to pond....

to pond…. EVERY bird counts (no matter how “common.”

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