Dec 14 2009
Today begins the 110th Christmas Bird Count, scheduled every year between December 14 and January 5.
Each count is held in a 7-mile radius circle during a single 24-hour period (night hours are for counting owls!) and though most count circles are in the U.S. there are also counts in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.
Volunteers organize the routes so they don’t overlap, then tally the number of birds per species, weather conditions, number of observers, hours spent and miles traveled. The statistics allow Audubon to compare year to year, correcting for differences in participation and coverage. It’s the longest running wildlife census in the Western Hemisphere.
Though the count period begins today, most counts are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays so there’s still plenty of time to sign up. For instance, the counts near Pittsburgh will be:
- Beaver in Beaver County, Sat 12/19/09
- Buffalo Creek in Washington County (IBA 80), Sun 12/20/09
- Buffalo Creek Valley in Butler & Armstrong Counties, Sat 12/19/09 (Yes, there are two big creeks named Buffalo in our area. Confusing!)
- Bushy Run park in Westmoreland County, Sat 12/19/09
- Butler in Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties, Sat 12/19/09
- Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Sat 12/26/09
- Pittsburgh South Hills in Allegheny and Washington Counties, Sat 12/19/09
- Rector in Westmoreland County, Sat 1/2/10
- Washington in Washington County, Sat 12/19/09
It’s easy to participate. You can count in the field with other participants; go with friends or meet new ones assigned by the coordinator. If you live in the count circle you can count the birds at your feeder. Just contact the count coordinator and he or she will handle the rest.
For contact information on all the Pennsylvania Christmas Counts, click here and go to pages 6-8 of the Pennsylvania Society of Ornithology newsletter. (The counts are listed by count name.) For other locations, check the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website to find a count near you and contact information for the circle coordinator.
I’ll be participating in the Buffalo Creek count in Washington County (IBA 80) organized by Larry Helgerman on Dec 20th.
Pick a count. Have fun!
(photo by Z Taylor, taken at a Pitt Sciences outing in 2006)