Audubon bird count Sunday in Valley | RecordCourier.com

Audubon bird count Sunday in Valley

by Susie Vasquez

Citizen scientists, unite!

It’s time for the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count and they need you.

Birds north of Stephanie and south of Centerville lanes will be counted this year, but no coordinated effort exists in central Carson Valley due to a lack of volunteers, said coordinator Jack Walters.

“I’m in the process of looking for another compiler here,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a Christmas bird count in Minden next year.”

In Carson Valley, the count includes many hawks, some coming from the northern tundra to feed on rodents. They will fly north again in March. Ducks, magpies and sparrows are also seen and the mountain bluebirds are doing fine, Walters said.

“We have a few bald eagles along river, near Cradlebaugh Bridge until February,” he said. “Then the numbers will increase, anywhere from 30 to 40.”

For this 105-year-old tradition, the society asks volunteers to spend one day counting birds in designated areas. The effort, which includes every state as well as many foreign countries, extends from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.

The local effort is scheduled Sunday.

Between 20 and 25 residents in Carson City and the Carson Valley volunteered for the count last year, said Karen Kish, communications chair for the Lahontan Audubon Society.

“Birding for the Christmas bird count allows you to have fun while generating important information that will be used in our bird conservation effort,” said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count director.

This year, contributors’ findings will be included in a comprehensive study of results over the past 39 years. In 2005, Audubon’s next “State of the Birds Report” will be issued, detailing the decline and/or rise of bird populations nationally.

“For the first time, we have good estimates of population trends for a number of species that spend their winter with us but breed far to the north,” LeBaron said.

Open to birders of all skill levels, the count is the longest-running database for the status and distribution of birds around the globe. Once the information is gathered, a compiler for each count will enter the data at National Audubon’s Web site.

Beginning birders will join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. Volunteers within the boundaries of a Christmas bird count circle can stay home and report the birds that visit their feeders, or join a group of birdwatchers in the field, Audubon officials said.

Over 55,000 volunteers from every state and Canada, Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific islands recorded 63 million birds during last year’s count.

Those wishing to volunteer for the count are invited to call Walters at 882-0518, Kish at 841-1180 or the Lahontan Audubon Society in Reno, 324-2473.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.