GAMBIER — Over 60,000 volunteers across the country will be counting birds in the coming weeks. Under the auspices of the Brown Family Environmental Center at Kenyon College, volunteers will be part of a local Binocular Brigade on Sunday, many rising before dawn to participate in the world’s longest running wildlife census begun in 1900.
The 113th Audubon Christmas Bird Count is expected to be larger than ever, expanding its geographic coverage and accumulating information about the winter distributions of various birds. Volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Pacific Islands will count and record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area.
“This is not just about counting birds,” says Gary Langham, Audubon chief scientist. “Data from the CBC are at the heart of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies and inform decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the EPA. Because birds are early indicators of environmental threats to habitats we share, this is a vital survey of North America and, increasingly, the Western Hemisphere.”
CBC revealed the dramatic impact climate change is already having on birds, and a disturbing decline in common birds, including the Northern Bobwhite Quail. The many decades of data not only help identify birds in need of conservation action, it also reveals success stories. CBC helped document the comeback of the Bald Eagle and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts.
“Bald eagles are usually among the thousands of birds recorded during our count,” said Heather Doherty, BFEC Program Manager. The BFEC recruits volunteers to either count birds at home feeders or in designated field areas in a central swath of Knox County, including Mt. Vernon, Fredericktown, Howard and Gambier.
The Audubon count began in 1900 when Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which evolved into Audubon magazine) suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most small game, including birds. Chapman proposed that people count birds instead.
Interested volunteers should register for the BFEC’s CBC at 427-5052 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To view a full calendar of winter BFEC events, visit http://bfec.kenyon.edu.
Published on December 10, 2012