Our Window on Nature

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Birding by the Numbers

Filed under: Birds — Lowell Christie -- December 12, 2006 @ 11:39 am

Bird WatchersOver 50,000 birders — beginners, professionals, and everyone in between — are polishing binoculars, pouring over maps, and getting ready for the 2006-2007 Christmas Bird Count. Last year 57,156 individuals took part in this annual event. That’s quite a change since the first count in 1900, when 27 individuals were involved.

Each year the results of this group effort go into an ever-expanding database that catalogs the rise and fall in the numbers of species of birds across the land. It’s not just the individual species, but also the actual numbers of each type of bird. Although not limited to the United States, last season the US count was 57,357,023 individual birds in 652 species.

Each official counting area is 15 miles in diameter, and the actual count includes every bird found within that area in a specific 24 hour period. The counts must take place between December 14th and January 5th.

Planners of these events make sure that the participants cover all the habitat’s within the count circle, and that some of the searchers are out early enough to catch the owls while they are still active. If there are some hard-to-find birds that have been seen recently, you can be sure someone has staked them out, because if you don’t find them on the official day, it doesn’t count.

If you have never participated in a Christmas Bird Count, it’s a great way to meet fellow birders, whether you have lots of experience or are just starting out. Those with less developed birding skills are paired with seasoned veterans, which is a great way to learn more about bird identification.

To find a bird count near you, including contact information, go the this National Audubon website and enter your state.

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