Saturday, December 16, 2017
How would you like to spend a Saturday in December looking and listening for birds in Sequoia National Park? The annual Christmas Bird Count is a fun way to celebrate the winter season by walking trails with a small group of people and paying attention to the sights and sounds of nature. People of all ages and experience levels are welcome. Each group has at least one experienced birder, and others can help by spotting birds and keeping track of the type and number of birds seen. This is a great chance to learn about bird life in the park.
Every year since 2000, a dozen to over 35 enthusiastic people have gathered in Sequoia National Park for this bird count, walking trails on pre-planned routes – listening carefully, searching the sky, trees or shrubs, the ground, and rivers and streams for birds, then identifying, counting, and writing them down. In previous years, birders have recorded from 40 to 67 different species, with the average being 60 species.
The local Sequoia count is part of a global effort that helps scientists track populations of birds and where they spend the winter. The first count began on Christmas Day in 1900, when Frank Chapman, an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, proposed it as an alternative to the traditional Christmas bird hunts. Today the Christmas Bird Count takes place annually from December 14 to January 5, and typically more than 30,000 people worldwide count over 2,400 species – or about 65 to 70 million birds each year!
The data collected on individual counts are especially valuable when combined with data from the many other counts. Regional-scale analyses of Christmas Bird Count data by the National Audubon Society have revealed that birds seen in North America during the first weeks of winter have moved dramatically northward toward colder latitudes over the past four decades. More than 60 out of 305 species assessed moved more than 100 miles north, while the average distance was 35 miles. Temperature increases coincided with these northward movements of bird populations, making a warming climate the likely explanation for many bird species shifts toward cooler places.
In addition to enjoying a day of birding in the park, your participation in a local Christmas Bird Count also contributes important information to our understanding of birds in North America, and their responses to a changing environment.
Event logistics: To sign up for this event, please visit: http://bit.ly/2gZs1pK. The cost is free. Volunteers registered for the owling and birding events receive a free park entrance to participate. The time frame is: 6 am - 7 am for owling and 7 am - 5 pm for birding. You can bird a shorter amount of time if you cannot spend all day. All ages are welcome, and children must be accompanied by an adult chaperone. Meet at the Foothills Visitor Center, Sequoia National Park. Be sure to bring water and food, wear sturdy walking shoes, and weather-appropriate clothing. Loaner binoculars and bird books are available.