Archive for Thursday, December 13, 2007

Annual Christmas Bird Count is Sunday

December 13, 2007

The annual Christmas Bird Count season is here. The Baldwin Bird Club will conduct its 66th annual count Sunday. The club 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 United States and Baldwin City. On Christmas Day in 1900 a small group of conservationists 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 Ivan L. and Margaret Boyd and 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 more than 2,000 individual counts were made. More than 70 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. Data from last year back to the first count in 1900 can be accessed at this Web site:

The Baldwin CBC last year had 14 participants in seven groups and two individuals that watched feeders. As a group they tallied 52,338 individuals of 83 species. This was higher than recent years because of good amounts of food available for birds. In the past 10 years the average number of species seen has been 78, with a high of 89.

"If you would like to join us this year, please meet at the Santa Fe Depot at 7:15 a.m. Sunday," said Roger Boyd, club president. "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 pot-luck salads and desserts at 12:30 p.m. at the depot and go out again in the afternoon.

"Or you can simply count the birds in your yard and call me at 594-3172 that evening with the results for the day," said Boyd. " The area that we count has a 7.5-mile radius with the center at the junction of 56 and 59 highways. 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 Boyd at the above phone number or by e-mail at

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