The Washington Outdoor Report -week of Dec. 21

The Christmas Bird Count

Courtesy John Kruse Christmas Bird Counts show Eurasian collard dove numbers are increasing in Eastern Washington.

It’s happened every year for 120 years and it will happen again in 2021, though the Covid-19 pandemic is making things a bit different this year. It’s the Audubon Christmas Bird Count and it takes place all over North America and other locales between December 14 and January 5. This is an annual census of birds, taken in designated circles by volunteers who get together to tally what kind of birds they see and how many over the course of one day during this time period. The circles are 15-miles in diameter and remain the same every year. There are circles located throughout Washington State though there are surprisingly none found in Grant or Adams County. As for who catalogs the species of birds seen and counts how many there are, any one is invited to participate. As you might imagine, enthusiastic bird watchers are keen to take part but beginners are also welcome. Beginners will be paired with more experienced birders.

This annual census is a valuable citizen science tool and shows population trends over time regarding different bird species. For example, checking historical data at the Audubon website for Washington State you’ll find wild turkey populations have grown nearly 40-fold since 1972 and the number of bald eagles has increased five-fold during this same time frame. Mike Munts, the compiler for the Chewelah area circle, notes the arrival and continuing increase in numbers of the Eurasian collared dove in recent years, something Joe Veverka, the compiler for the Leavenworth circle, noticed as well in Chelan County. On the other hand, some species are not doing very well. One of them is the gray (formerly known as the Hungarian) partridge, which has seen a 75 percent decrease in numbers since 1972.

So where are Christmas Bird Counts taking place this year? Here’s a list of circles in the area our readers live in and the status of bird count gatherings during this year of Covid-19 disruptions.

BRIDGEPORT – Was scheduled to occur on December 16.

CHELAN – Compiler Steve Easley says due to the pandemic, participants will not get together at the beginning or end of the count day which is taking place January 2. If you want to participate, call Easly at 509-682-2318 by Christmas Day. You will be on your own to count birds on the 2. After the count, participating volunteers can submit their count results to Easly by January 5.

COLVILLE – Compiler Barbara Harding says that due to Covid-19, “We will not be doing our regular CBC COUNT on Dec 19. We are hoping to have our folks do feeder counts that day since many of them live within the count circle.”

CHEWELAH – Compiler Mike Munts says the count in this circle is cancelled this year due to Covid-19 concerns.

KLICKITAT VALLEY/COLUMBIA HILLS – The count is scheduled to take place December 27. Contact Samuel Holman by email at sam4cb@embarqmail.com if you would like to participate this year.

LEAVENWORTH – Joe Veverka, the compiler for this circle, said the bird count took place December 15 though participation was limited due to pandemic related restrictions.

WENATCHEE – The Christmas Bird Count in this circle will take place on December 30. If you would like to be a part of this contact Dan Stephens at 509-682-6752 or by email at dstephens@wvc.edu as soon as possible.

If you would like to find out more about the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (and maybe establish a counting circle in your area if there is not one present), go to https://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count

John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
 

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