Annual Christmas Bird Counts Scheduled
December 15, 2014
(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - From Ketchikan to Nome, every year Alaskans bundle up and gather together to celebrate the holiday season by braving the elements for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count. Alaskans are creative about transportation, last year using ten forms of transportation, including cross-country skis, dog sled, kayak, and fat-tire bike.
Groups of volunteers select a day between December 14, 2014 and January 5, 2015 to conduct a count. This year, Glacier Bay (Gustavus) and Juneau held their counts on December 14, since the first day of the count window fell on a Sunday.
Ketchikan, Craig-Klawock, Petersburg and Skagway will hold their bird counts on December 20th.
This Cedar Waxwing photographed in Ketchikan on December 14, 2014. This was an unexpected sighting as the Cedar Waxwing has usually left the Ketchikan area by this time of the year.
Photograph by JIM LEWIS ©2014
Volunteers have 24 hours to record as many birds as possible within a 15-mile diameter circle. There are Christmas Bird Counts in all 50 states, in all Canadian provinces, several Central and South American countries, and several Pacific and Caribbean islands. Last year there were 37 counts held across Alaska. Many counts end with a social gathering to tally lists and crow over the best birds.
First organized in the Lower 48 and eastern Canada with just 27 birdwatchers in 1900, this season marks the 115th Christmas Bird Count. In Alaska, volunteers have carried out Christmas Bird Counts since before statehood, with the first counts in 1941.
“The Christmas Bird Count is a great way for volunteers of all ages, from kids to grandparents, to participate together in one of the longest running citizen-science projects in the world,” said Nils Warnock, Executive Director of Audubon Alaska. “With more than a century of data nationwide and 70 years in Alaska, this is a powerful tool that helps scientists look for changes in Alaska’s bird populations and ranges.”
There are more birds, and bird watchers, than you might expect in Alaska in the winter. On 37 counts across the state last year, despite the Alaska record number of 1,096 observers, both the number of species (139) species and individual birds 124,854 were lower than normal. Kodiak recaptured the title of seeing the most species with 77 species observed.
Last year, the 10 counts completed in Southeast Alaska recorded 105 species (plus 9 cw) and 44,069 individual birds. The most species (69, plus 7 cw) and individuals (10,783) were recorded at Juneau; while Sitka had the most participants (52). At least five of the counts experienced high winds and heavy rain. New to any Alaska CBC were two count-week Virginia Rails at Glacier Bay. New high counts for the entire State were established for Canada Goose (2126 at Juneau), Eurasian Collared-Dove (78 at Ketchikan – this species was also recorded on six other counts in the subregion), Anna’s Hummingbird (6! at Sitka), Red-breasted Sapsucker (16 at Mitkof Island), and Dark-eyed Junco (948 at Ketchikan). And a new subregion high count was set for Black Oystercatcher (49 at Sitka).
Alaska Christmas Bird Counts welcome volunteers of all skill levels. The count is offered as a free event. Interested volunteers can find a count near them and sign up on the National Audubon website. If you are interested in attending a local count, please visit the Christmas Bird Count Calendar on the Audubon Alaska website for dates and local contact details.
Upcoming Southeast Alaska Counts:
Ketchikan, December 20
Craig-Klawock, December 20
Mitkof Island (Petersburg), December 20
Skagway, December 20
Haines, December 27
Chilkat, December 27
Sitka, January 4
Tenakee Springs, December 28
Wrangell Island, January 4
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
On the Web:
Alaska Audubon - find an Audubon near
Christmas Bird Count Calendar
Sign up for a count near you on the the National Audubon website.
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