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Christmas Bird Counts

The Audubon Society and its countrywide chapters organizes and conducts an annual Christmas Bird Count across the country (including Canada) during the Holiday Season. This event started in the year 1900 because prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt.” That is, they would choose sides (teams) and go afield with their guns, and whichever “side” brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society (the Society officially came into being in 1905), proposed a new holiday tradition – a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of 27 dedicated birders, 25 Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all the counts combined.

For several years the Central Sierra Chapter has organized and run three different Christmas Bird Counts, the Sonora CBC our oldest, the Groveland CBC originally established by Bill Zachman in 2007,and the  Calaveras CBC. Unfortunately, we have no-one to organize the Groveland CBC this year, so we hope that in 2021 we may find someone willing to do it.  It actually is not an onerous job and in normal times the fun is well worth the effort.

Each count is conducted within a 15-mile diameter circle. The circle is divided into smaller sectors covered by teams of observers, usually made up of 2 to 10 birders. Both experienced and novice birders are included in each team. This provides excellent mentoring while gathering meaningful scientific data on a national and even international scale. At the end of each count day a potluck supper is held somewhere near the count circle area. It’s a great time for socializing and recapping the day’s efforts.

Contact the organizers below to find out more about each count circle sponsored by Central Sierra Audubon.

Sonora Area CBC—Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020

The Sonora CBC will take place this year on Saturday, December 19th. I am, once again, pleading with you all to help us out in counting. We need bodies to pound the pavement in search of our avian friends. Your birding expertise can be anywhere on the spectrum from novice to expert. All you need to participate is the drive to be outside and assist in the largest Citizen Science undertaking in the world. Even if you cannot participate in the field, bird feeders in our yards are, collectively, a huge source of sightings. You can help us out from the comfort and safety of your home.
This Count will be one of over 2600 worldwide. Each Count Circle has a diameter of 15 miles and is broken into sectors. Each sector is headed by someone with birding experience. The group travels throughout the area by car or foot and counts EVERY bird that is seen or heard. The data is used, along with other sources of data, to study trends in bird populations throughout the world.
In the past, we would all congregate at a local restaurant and compile the day’s data. This year, due to the pandemic, we will NOT be congregating at a restaurant. I will establish a meeting time and place to collect the information.
Contact Steven Umland at 209.352.6985 or at stevenum71@gmail.com if you have questions or would like to join us.

Feeder Watchers also Needed for Sonora Area CBC

For those of you who cannot get out in the field on December 19th, you can stay in the comfort and warmth of our own home and tally the birds that come into your yard and/or feeders, and then send the results to me. If you can do that, email me at stevenum71@gmail.com and I’ll send you flexible guidelines.

Groveland CBC—Monday, Dec. 16, 2019

There will be no Groveland CBC in 2020

Calaveras County CBC— Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021

The Calaveras CBC will be run again this season by Keith & Sandra Maurer as they have done in the last few years. This event will also follow social distancing guidelines and there will not be a meeting at the end of day. Count data can be supplied via USPS or email, details in the November Squawker.
Contact Keith & Sandra at kandsmaurer@goldrush.com