Birdwatchers invited to participate in survey

GLOVERSVILLE — The National Audubon Society invites birdwatchers to participate in the longest-running community science survey, the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, on Sunday, Dec. 23, in the Gloversville and Johnstown area, according to a news release.

According to Laurie Freeman, coordinator for the Gloversville/Johnstown count, “2018 marks the 30th year of the Gloversville, Johnstown count.”

“Perhaps this will be the year the Evening Grosbeaks return,” she said.

“2017 was the third year running that they were absent from our count. There are reports of them at feeders this year. We need volunteers to help find them and about 48 other species in our area.”

This year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count will mobilize over 72,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,500 locations across the Western Hemisphere. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone. Data compiled in Gloversville/Johnstown will record every individual bird and bird species seen in a specified area, contributing to a vast community science network that continues a tradition stretching back more than 100 years.

“The Christmas Bird Count is a tradition that everyone can participate in,” said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count director.

“Adding observations to more than a century of data helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful. Participating in the Christmas Bird Count is a fun tradition for anyone and everyone.”

To date more than 300 peer-reviewed articles have resulted from analysis done with Christmas Bird Count data, the release stated. Bird-related community science efforts are also critical to understanding how birds are responding to a changing climate. This documentation is what enabled Audubon scientists to discover that 314 species of North American birds are threatened by global warming as reported in Audubon’s groundbreaking Birds and Climate Change Study. The tradition of counting birds combined with modern technology and mapping is enabling researchers to make discoveries that were not possible in earlier decades.

Birders of all ages are welcome to contribute to this fun, nationwide community science project, which provides ornithologists with a crucial snapshot of our native bird populations during the winter months. Each individual count is performed in a count circle with a diameter of 15 miles. At least 10 volunteers, including a compiler to coordinate the process, count in each circle. The volunteers break up into small parties and follow assigned routes, which change little from year to year, counting every bird they see. In most count circles, some people also watch feeders instead of following routes.

To sign up for the Gloversville-Johnstown count, contact Laurie Freeman at radicalaccordion@gmail.com or (518) 770-1503. Volunteers need not have experience but should have binoculars. This is a free event.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when 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 birds.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a community science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate and the quarterly report, American Birds, is available online. Counts are open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. For more information and to find a count nearby, visit www.christmasbirdcount.org.

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have a wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.

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