Annual bird count set for this weekend
The annual Christmas Bird Count season is upon us. The Baldwin Bird Club will conduct its 50th annual count this Saturday Dec. 29. We will meet at the Santa Fe Depot at 7:15 a.m. to assign areas before heading to the field.
The Christmas Bird Count has a rich history in the U.S. and Baldwin. On Christmas Day in 1900 a small group of conservationist led by Frank Chapman conducted the first Christmas Bird Count. It was initiated as an alternative to the "side hunt" which was traditional at the turn of the century. In this activity teams would compete to see who could shoot the most birds and small animals in one day. Chapman proposed that instead of shooting, they would count the birds they saw. The Baldwin Bird Club has the record of the oldest on-going CBC in the state. The first CBC conducted in Baldwin was in 1942 by Dr. and Mrs. Ivan L. Boyd and Dr. Ray Miller. Most of their birding was close to town as gas was in short supply and they tallied 284 individuals of 30 species.
Today, besides being a social, sporting, and competitive event, the CBC reveals scientific information on the winter distributions and abundance of various bird species. It has developed into an important tool in monitoring the status of resident and winter migrants across the Western Hemisphere. It is considered a crucial part of the U.S. Government's natural history monitoring database.
Today, more than 50,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific islands count and record every individual bird and bird species seen during one 24-hour calendar day. More than 1,800 individual count circles will be covered during a two-and-a-half week official count period. Each group has a designated circle 15 miles in diameter about 177 square miles where they try to census as much ground as possible within a day.
Last year 1,880 individual counts were made. More than 54 million individual birds were counted. A total of 2,485 species of birds was tallied, with a total of 689 in North America alone. The counts were originally organized by National Audubon Society but are now assisted greatly by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. You can access the data from last year back to the first count in 1900 at this website: www.birdsource.org
The Baldwin CBC last year had 15 participants in six groups and they tallied 8310 individuals of 62 species. This was lower than recent years due to low water levels and all lakes being frozen. The starting temperature for the day as 12 degrees and the high was 24. In the past 10 years the average number of species seen has been 73, with a high of 84.
If you would like to join us this year, please meet at the Santa Fe Depot at 7:15 a.m. At that time we will pair participants up with veterans and go out to the field. Most of the groups will meet for soup and potluck salads and desserts at depot and go out again in the afternoon. Or you can simply count the birds in your yard and call Roger Boyd that evening with the results for the day. The area that we count has a 7.5 radius with the center at the junction of U.S. Highway 56 and U.S. Highway 59. This includes Baldwin, Centropolis, Worden, Lone Star Lake, Douglas County Lake and several large watershed lakes. Come join the fun for part or the entire day. For more information contact Roger Boyd at 594-3172 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.