Saturday, December 14, 2013

Getting Ready for the Christmas Bird Count

Monday is our annual Christmas Bird Count for this area. It started here in 1997 and has been going on every year since, and it's been interesting learning about some of the trends (which you can see in an article in this publication).  Worldwide, the very first Christmas Bird Count was in 1900, which makes this project the longest citizen science project in existence.

To get ready, we started putting bird feed in our feeder about a week ago. It didn't take long for dark-eyed juncos and pinyon jays to find it. The pinyon jays come in a huge flock and stay until they eat everything.

They are beautiful birds, although a little aggressive so they keep out the other birds. I was surprised by how the photos I took captured them in so many stages of flight.

 A neighbor's feeder also gets the pinyon jays, but also lesser goldfinches, and at the top, a white-crowned sparrow.

To expand the citizen-science aspect of this project, I visited Desert Boy's school and put up a bird feeder for them. They are going to help watch what shows up on Christmas Bird Count day and contribute to the effort.
 They were fascinated with the binoculars I brought. We also practiced a few bird calls (e.g., Canada goose, mallard, raven, mountain chickadee, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk). I was impressed how well they knew them. Although most thought the red-tailed hawk was an eagle because that's what television dubs in--a real eagle call is rather weird and unimpressive sounding.

 Then we made bird feeders they can take home with them. First, find a pine cone, tie a string around the top, goop it up with peanut butter, then roll in bird seed. Put in a plastic bag to get home, then take out and hang up outside.

The kids seemed to really enjoy it. Hopefully they will see some neat birds at home!

If you'd like to help in your local Christmas Bird Count, it's not too late to sign up. They are lots of fun, and you can participate even if you're brand new to birding. Trust me, it's more fun to look at birds for the day than you might imagine! You can also just count birds in your yard or on a walk and submit what you find.

1 comment:

Mimsie said...

Looks like fun. It will have to be a home project, because the schools here ban peanut butter.

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