Archive for Thursday, January 13, 2011

Baldwin Bird club annual count finds average year

January 13, 2011

The Baldwin Bird Club conducted its 69th annual Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society, on Sunday, Dec. 19. The Christmas Bird Count was established in 1900 as an alternative to the traditional Christmas Day Hunt. This was a tradition where people would go out to see how many different birds an individual could shoot in a day.

The modern Christmas Bird Count has developed into a very useful tool for gathering bird population data during winter conditions in the United States. Each count is limited to a circle that is 15 miles in diameter or approximately 176.6 sq miles. The Baldwin count circle is centered at the junction of U.S. Highways 56 and 59.

There were two counts conducted in Kansas in 1942 but the Baldwin Count, which was first conducted that year by Ivan and Margaret Boyd and Ray Miller is the oldest continuous count in the state. Last year there were 46 counts conducted in Kansas and 2,150 counts were conducted worldwide.

The weather was moderate with a low of 28 and a high of 48. The day was cloudy in the morning and partly cloudy in the afternoon. Wind was around 5 mph in morning and gusting to 10-12 in the afternoon. Most running and still water was frozen. At least we did not have snow as we did last year.

This year there were 11 people divided into seven parties who traveled the roads and fields looking for birds. In addition, there were seven people who recorded the number and species of birds that came to their feeder during the day. Between 6:15 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. the group identified 89 species. This is tied with the previous high in 1999. The total number of individuals recorded this year was 16,218. This is about twice as many as last year’s count. The 10-year average is 20,018. The record high for the Baldwin count was set in 2006 with 52,338 individuals.

For most species, this seemed to be a fairly average year. There was one new species seen on the count this year and that was 12 horned grebes. Lone Star Lake was open and very productive. Other unusual species there were trumpeter swan, greater scaup, canvasback, bufflehead and ruddy duck.

There were three species that had record high counts for the year: ruddy duck(10), red-shouldered hawk(5), and Eurasian collared dove(17). This species was seen for the first time on the Baldwin CBC last year. Another extremely unusual species seen on the Lawrence CBC the previous day was Turkey Vulture (see photo). Another was seen in Missouri near Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area in Linn County.

The species with the highest number of individuals counted this year was again Canada geese with 5,356. Second in abundance was American robin with 2,892. Cal Cink and I estimated nearly 50,000 robins coming to a night roost near the Wetlands on the Lawrence CBC. The third in abundance were red-winged blackbirds at 1,839. All other species were way lower than that. No species stood out as being particularly low this year.

Food such as acorns and the invasive bush honeysuckle seemed to be abundant except that cedar berries weren’t particularly abundant. Species that commonly visit feeders such as black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, northern cardinals, purple finch, house finch, and American goldfinch all appear to have been at normal levels.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted each year within a two-week period around Christmas and New Year’s Day. The results are tabulated and published on-line by the National Audubon Society at http://cbc.audubon.org. The record serves as a means of determining year-to-year or long-term changes in bird populations. The participants on the 2010 count included Henry Armknecht, Jan and Roger Boyd, John Brockway, Bill Busby, Calvin Cink, Preston Fambrough, Barbara James, Sandra Johnson, Bootsie Lauridsen, Becky and Danny McMillen, Gerry Parkinson, Barbara and Martin Pressgrove, Gary Sanden, and Phil Wedge. We invite you to join us next year.

The next meeting of the Baldwin Bird Club will be at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Baldwin Grade School Elementary Center community room on Lawrence Street. In addition to a brief summary of the Christmas Bird Count, Dr. Calvin Cink will present video on penguins of Antarctica. Meetings are open to the public.

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