The swans have returned, and it’s time to think Christmas Bird Count. The San Juan Islands Audubon Society is holding its count after the beginning of the year – Sat. Jan. 4, 2014.
In 1900 ornithologist Frank Chapman, along with other conservationists, was disturbed at the slaughter of birds in the annual holiday event called the “side hunt”. The team that shot the most birds and other small animals was the winner.
As a protest, Chapman organized 27 friends in 25 locations on Christmas Day, 1900 people total, to count live animals instead of shooting them.
The CBC became an annual event and chapters across North America started their own count. Each Audubon chapter chooses a 24-hour time period from the middle of December to early January for their count.
The area covered is a 15-mile diameter-wide circle of about 177 square miles. Every bird seen or heard is counted.
There is also a three-day period on each end of the count day to record birds not always seen on the day of the count.
More information about the CBC can be found at National Aububon’s website.
San Juan Islands Audubon Society began its count in 1984 and established the circle center at the Friday Harbor Labs.
The count area includes most of Lopez, all of Shaw, about a third of Orcas and most of San Juan Island. Hundreds of people have participated over the years by either walking, driving, or going by boat.
Some routes are established and some people just monitor their own backyard, neighborhood or bird feeder. Young and old, experienced and inexperienced birders are welcome. We always need more people to cover many areas.
So why is this data important? Bird populations are indicators of the overall health of our environment. As the database continues to grow and becomes long-term, it is possible to monitor the abundance and distribution patterns of wintering bird populations. Results from the counts can be found here.
Even if you don’t count, please let us know of any of these species three days on each side of the count, or let us know ahead of time so we can look for them: small hawks, mourning doves, owls, hummingbirds, sapsuckers, shrikes, jays, and western bluebirds.
If you live on the shoreline we need your help with shorebirds and marine birds.
For more information and to join call: San Juan Islands Audubon President Barbara Jensen, 378-3068.
Dates/Times: Sat. Jan 4, as well as three days prior to and following that date
Location: 15-mile diameter-wide circle extending outward from the Friday Harbor Labs