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Wednesday, December 8, 2010
CHRISTMAS BIRDS COUNTING ON BIRDERS
Kansas Ornithological Society Christmas Bird Count runs Dec. 14-Jan. 9; Audubon count runs Dec. 14-Jan. 5
PRATT — It’s been a mild fall in Kansas, but winter has arrived, bringing bird watchers the opportunity to bundle up and participate in a Christmas bird count (CBC). Christmas bird counts are great for making new acquaintances, renewing old friendships, and learning more about birds and birdwatching in Kansas.
This is the 111th year for organized Christmas bird counts, and more than 2,000 counts are held across the nation each year. Kansas averages 50 counts per year, with 40 scheduled so far this year and others yet to be announced. Many counts are concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of the state, but in recent years, more have been conducted in western portions of the state — such as Elkhart and Ulysses — providing additional opportunities to participate.
Christmas bird counts are conducted in circular census areas with a 7.5 mile radius. This is consistent from count-to-count and year-to-year, always surveying the same location and ensuring that data collected is comparable for population trends over time.
CBCs are easy to prepare for, the best tools being a pair of binoculars, a good field guide, and appropriate clothing and footwear for possible extreme weather. For those counting in an area with a lake, a good spotting scope can be extremely helpful in identifying birds at a distance. It’s also a good idea to study what the expected species are for your location.
There are many count compilers in Kansas who only send data to the Kansas Ornithological Society (KOS), and these counts are free. The KOS will accept data collected on counts from Dec. 14 through Jan. 9, 2011, giving counters two more weekends to help survey their favorite areas. However, the official Audubon Christmas Bird Count period is Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 every year. The Audubon counts requir a $5 participation fee for persons 18 and older, with the money going toward the cost of data publication.