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Audubon Society plans Christmas Bird Count

December 7th 2:30 pm | Staff Report Print this article   Email this article  

The National Audubon Society invites birdwatchers to participate in the longest-running citizen science survey, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. On Dec. 16, birders and nature enthusiasts in Homer will take part in this tradition. Birders of all ages and skill levels are welcome to contribute to this fun, nationwide citizen science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of our native bird populations during the winter months.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore — which evolved into Audubon magazine — suggested an alternative to the holiday "side hunt," in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds. One hundred seventeen years of counting birds is a long time, but the program somehow brings out the best in people, and they stay involved for the long run. And so the tradition continues.

This year, the 119th Audubon Christmas Bird Count will mobilize over 72,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,500 locations across the Western Hemisphere. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled in Homer will record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area contributing to a vast citizen science network that continues a tradition stretching back more than 100 years.

The Homer CBC is conducted every year in mid-December within a fixed, 15-mile diameter count circle centered in Mud Bay at the base of the Spit. The volunteers gather at Islands and Ocean Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. on the morning of the count and break up into smaller groups to follow assigned routes within the count circle to count all bird they see throughout the day. People who are not able to go out on the field survey can also contribute by counting birds at their bird feeders during count day. Volunteers will assemble back at the center at 4:30 p.m. to compile and discuss the results, and share some hot soups and refreshments.

Homer's species count totals typically range between 55-65 species and totals for individual birds in past years have reached over 15,000. Most every year, we find some rare or unusual birds during the count.

Some of the more exciting birds observed in past years have included the Anna's hummingbird, mountain bluebird, brambling, rustic bunting, white-throated sparrow, red-breasted sapsucker and American coot.

To sign up for the count, please contact Dave Erikson at 907 441-7931 (email: derikson@alaska.net), or Lani Raymond at 907 299-9477 (email: lanibirder@gmail.com ). Volunteers can also just show up the morning of the count. There is no fee to participate.

 

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