December 15, 2008

Our First Christmas Bird Count!!!

The annual Christmas Bird Count is a citizen science program devoted to counting birds in order to analyze population trends and range expansion over the years.  How does it work? There are count circles, 15 miles in diameter, which are split up into smaller areas in which a party of birders counts birds all day long.   After they have finished birding, they report their list to the circle's organizer, called a compiler.  These circles can be found all across the western hemisphere.

This was the 109th Christmas Bird Count and our very first time to participate!  The first Christmas Bird Count (called Christmas Bird Census back then) was held on Christmas Day of 1900 and was a reaction to the Christmas match hunts where teams of hunters killed every living thing in sight (except, of course, for humans).  Whichever team had killed the most individuals, won the competition. 

Yesterday, for most of the daylight hours, we were participating in the Boulder count circle with our neighbor Raymond Davis (we call him Davis), and his friend Sharon Dooley.  We had area #1, which was basically urban north Boulder.  When we left our neighborhood in the foothills, it was -1˚ Fahrenheit.  It wasn't much warmer in Boulder.  With no sun, a slight breeze in the face, and four inches of snow on the ground, it made for a numbingly cold day of birding.  The first birds we saw in our area were some Black-billed Magpies flying over Highway 36 as we were coming into town.  The creeks and lakes in our area were all frozen over, except for a couple of the larger creeks and a heated pond near a cemetery off of Kalmia Avenue.  The best source of birds we found were at suburban feeders and in numerous Crabapple and Russian-olive trees.   

Our first stop was at a grove of Russian-olives along a creek.  The Russian-olives were loaded with hundreds of American Robins and European Starlings.  We also found four Cedar Waxwings!  Next, we went to the cemetery pond which held lots of ducks and geese in the morning.  When we rechecked that pond in the evening, there were only a few Canada Geese and three Redheads.  The Redheads had been absent in the morning.  After that, we birded at some suburban feeders on the way to Wonderland Lake and had a pit-stop at Davis' work place. Wonderland Lake was frozen over, except for a small stretch of open water near the shore.  We saw five Mallards, an unidentified sparrow, and an American Kestrel.  After checking that, we cruised the nearby neighborhoods looking for feeders and Crabapple Trees.  We searched the western boundary of our area looking for mountain species and found five Steller's Jays.  We also found a Sharp-shinned Hawk and a Townsend's Solitaire.  Other good birds we found today were 50 Cedar Waxwings gathered in a couple of trees feeding on adjacent Crabapple Trees, as well as, a female Cooper's Hawk near a bird feeder in the middle of town waiting for an easy meal.  It was a bitterly cold, yet fun day.  Thanks Davis!

European Starlings in Crabapple Tree - by Marcel Such

Bird Count:
Cackling Goose - 3
Canada Goose - 220
Gadwall - 1 male, 1 female in cemetery pond
American Wigeon - 5 in cemetery pond
Mallard - 17
Redhead - 3 males in cemetery pond
Common Goldeneye - 1 male, 1 female in cemetery pond
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 1 female
Red-tailed Hawk - 1 juvenile
American Kestrel - 2
American Coot - 1 at cemetery pond
Ring-billed Gull - 5
Rock Pigeon - 40
Downy Woodpecker - 1 female at a feeder on Island Drive
"Red-shafted" Northern Flicker - 8
Steller's Jay - 5
Blue Jay - 5
Black-billed Magpie - 20
American Crow - 40
Common Raven - 8
Black-capped Chickadee - 1
American Robin - 200
European Starling - 60
Cedar Waxwing - 55
Dark-eyed Junco - 20
"Slate-colored" Dark-eyed Junco - 4
"Oregon" Dark-eyed Junco - 10
"Pink-sided" Dark-eyed Junco - 7
"Gray-headed" Dark-eyed Junco - 2
House Finch - 75
Pine Siskin - 25
American Goldfinch - 9
House Sparrow - 25

1 comment:

Yan Naing said...

What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God. nice post and thanks for sharing...