Christmas Bird Count 2012

December  17, 2012

     For the 112th year, volunteers have fanned out across North America for the annual Christmas Bird Count. The 23-day period began on Friday (12/14), and continues through January 5th. 

     Wildlife biologist Kelly McKay from Hampton, Illinois, says for anyone interested in birding, this is a great way to start. There are fewer species around in the winter, and newcomers are matched with more experienced birders.   He first participated in 1980, and has counted for nearly 350 days since, including four years when he counted on each of the 23 days.  

     McKay says birds show the effects of global climate change - a good example in the midwest is the semi-hardy species such as robins and cedar waxwings. 

     "Birds that used to winter further south from here, we now routinely find them on midwestern Christmas Bird Counts. So there does seem to be a shifting of the species' ranges."

     Once the counts are done, results will be sent to the National Audubon Society.  The first count in the Quad Cities area occurred yesterday in Davenport, followed by Clinton and Savanna on Wednesday. In three weeks, the last count will be held in Andalusia and Buffalo on January 5th. 

(white breasted nuthatch photo courtesy of Steve Hager)