Parks plan Christmas Bird Count

Faith Castro
December 15, 2017

Volunteers count birds for as little as 15 minutes a day, or for as long as they wish on one or more days during the four-day event, then report their sightings online to Birdcount.org.

"Blue Water Audubon has been doing this count, this is our 61st year participating in this count", said Janet Fox, compiler for the annual event.

American ornithologist and field guide author Frank Chapman created the Christmas Bird Count in 1900 as a way for the National Audubon Society to promote conservation by counting birds.

It's indeed the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas Bird Count season is upon us!

The results of all counts are submitted to Bird Studies Canada and collated for all of North America.

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The local count is part of a larger effort going back 117 years to December 25, 1900.

Each year, volunteers drive vehicles, record data and identify birds on specified routes. With the oddly high number of rarities like Summer Tanager and White-eyed Vireo around right now, who knows what counters will turn up in their annual scouring of the seldom birded corners of the region? The designated county compiler is responsible for collecting and cataloging this information, but it is citizen volunteers, whose countless hours spent searching the skies, trees and underbrush for these elusive animals, who do most of the legwork. Birders will be divided into groups that will go out to count birds in and around Rochester.

Another avid birder, Matthew Mecklenburg, a land steward with the Nature Conservancy in Glyndon, wanted to grow the birding options in the Pelican Rapids area, so he helped start a new count circle there this year.

The count focuses on the winter bird population, which is quite different from summer, as many birds leave this area for warmer climes and other species arrive from the far north.

One of the interesting things discovered during the snapshot was a shift of bird populations, including the large irruption of Snowy Owls across the northeastern, mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes areas of the United States.

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