Fourth annual Christmas Bird Count starts Saturday |

Fourth annual Christmas Bird Count starts Saturday

Staff Reports

Shannon Litz file photoA Rio Grande turkey flies away in January 2009. Volunteers will count bird species for the fourth annual Minden Christmas Bird Count, 7 a.m. Saturday. Information, Mary Ellen Conaway,, or Jim Woods, or 720-7009.

The fourth annual Minden Christmas Bird Count and Feeder Watch is Saturday.

The National Christmas Bird Count was started 113 years ago by the originators of the National Audubon Society.

The effort is to identify and count all the individuals and species of birds in a 15 mile diameter circle. According to the Audubon Society, it is the longest ongoing wildlife survey in the United States.

The survey results have shown the rise and fall of bird populations, given early warnings for bird populations that are crashing, shown new increase of bird populations, tracked the introduction of foreign species like the Eurasian Collard Dove and shown the expansion or relocation of bird ranges across the United States.

“The data from the Christmas bird counts clearly showed the reaction of bird populations natural occurrences like drought and global warming,” said Jim Woods of Birding Under Nevada Skies who started the Minden Circle three years ago .

During its operation, the Minden Christmas Bird Count has counted approximately 13,000 birds and identified 99 species during the one day counting event.

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As many as 25 local birders have taken part in the field count and 12 or more have taken part in the feeder watch effort.

Carson Valley is a popular stop or wintering area for migrating birds of all species from the western United States and Canada.

The rough-legged hawk is one such visitor that migrates to the Valley from it nesting grounds on the Arctic tundra.

There are many raptor species that winter in the Valley, and form the attraction of the Eagles and Agriculture Festival which will be held on Feb. 22-24.

The bald eagles that are the center piece of the festival nested near Genoa some three years ago, and have successfully hatched and fledged chicks.

“Through conservation efforts like the River Fork Ranch run by The Nature Conservancy the Valley continues to be a valuable habitat for all birds and other wildlife,” Woods said. “There are even wild turkeys roaming the Valley now.”

All birders of every level are invited to join the Minden count by contacting Woods at 720-7009 or for information.

To take part in the feeder watch only, contact Mary Ellen Conaway at .

For field assignments, meet at Woodett’s Diner at 7a.m., Saturday.

There will be a potluck dinner to wrap up the days’ work.

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