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1/10/2013 11:31:00 AM
Binocular brigades invade Chelan: Locals join annual Bird Count
Chelan-area bird counters snapped a shot of this Eurasian Collared Dove near Lake Chelan.Photo courtesy Stephen Easley
Chelan-area bird counters snapped a shot of this Eurasian Collared Dove near Lake Chelan.
Photo courtesy Stephen Easley
The census results:
Common loons, 13; pied-billed grebes, 15; horned grebes, 16; Western grebe, 1; great blue herons, 5; trumpeter swans, 2; Canada geese, 1017; mallards, 981; gadwalls, 7; American wigeons, 133; canvasbacks, 3; redheads, 101; ring-necked ducks, 366; greater scaup, 1; lesser scaups, 367; long-tailed duck, 1; common goldeneyes, 110; Barrow's goldeneyes, 53; buffleheads, 180; hooded mergansers, 37; common mergansers, 31; ruddy ducks, 71; bald eagles, 39; Northern harriers, 8; sharp-shinned hawks, 7; Cooper's hawks, 8; Northern goshawk, 1; red-tailed hawks, 72; rough-legged hawks, 6; golden eagles, 5; American kestrels, 28; merlins, 4; prairie falcons, 3; chukars, 19; ring-necked pheasant, 1; wild turkeys, 21; California quails, 1662; American coots, 608; killdeers, 2; ring-billed gulls, 23; herring gull, 1; rock pigeons, 162; mourning doves, 21; Eurasian collared-doves, 61; great horned owls, 8; belted kingfishers, 4; Lewis' woodpecker, 1; downy woodpeckers, 3; hairy woodpeckers, 2; Northern flickers, 199; Steller's jays, 101; gray jays, 2; Clark's nutcrackers, 11; black-billed magpies, 127; American crows, 135; common ravens, 51; black-capped chickadees, 16; mountain chickadees, 32; red-breasted nuthatches, 125; white-breasted nuthatches, 2; pygmy nuthatches, 19; brown creeper, 1; canyon wren, 1; marsh wren, 1; American dipper, 1; golden-crowned kinglets, 5; ruby-crowned kinglet, 1; Townsend's solitaire, 1; hermit thrushes, 2; American robins, 190; varied thrushes, 44; Bohemian waxwings, 365; cedar waxwings, 200; Northern shrikes, 10; European starlings, 1750; fox sparrows, 3; song sparrows, 46; white-crowned sparrows, 308; white-throated sparrow, 1; dark- eyed juncos, 1397; red-winged blackbirds, 148; Western meadowlark, 1; Brewer's blackbirds, 17; pine grosbeaks, 43; purple finches, 2; house finches, 466; red crossbills, 106; white-winged crossbill, 1; common redpolls, 49; hoary redpolls, 9; pine siskins, 26; American goldfinches, 160; house sparrows, 365.
By Stephen Easley

CHELAN - The longest running citizen science in the world, Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count took place during the holiday period just past.

Audubon CBC data not only helps identify birds in most urgent need of conservation action; it reveals success stories. The Christmas Bird Count helped document the comeback of the previously endangered bald eagle, and significant increases in waterfowl populations, both the result of conservation efforts. The data also indicate the recent decline in the evening grosbeak and the invasion of the Eurasian collared-dove.

Counts are often family or community traditions that make for fascinating stories. Accuracy is assured by having new participants join an established group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle or can arrange in advance to count the birds at home feeders inside the circle and submit the results to a designated compiler. All individual Christmas Bird Counts are single-day events that may be conducted between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 (inclusive). In the Chelan Falls - Chelan - Manson area on Dec. 28, armed with binoculars, several local volunteers joined the citizen science initiative throughout North America to count birds from sunrise to sunset.

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 when Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore (which evolved into Audubon magazine) suggested an alternative to the "side hunt", in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most game, including birds.

Chapman proposed that people "hunt" birds only to count them. Now Binocular Brigades often brave winter's chill, ice and snow to record changes in resident populations before spring migrants return.

The weather on Dec. 28 (moderate overcast, mostly calm, temperature ranging from 26 to 33F, snow cover from 6" to 12" at higher elevations) was about typical for the Chelan area. There were 23 local volunteers (plus two feeder watchers at home) who counted 12,847 birds from sunrise to sunset. This was 22 percent greater than the 24-year average of 10,481 birds.

Ninety-four species were identified, which was 15 more than the 24-year average. There were three new additions to the list: gray jay (2), white-throated sparrow (1), and hoary redpoll (9). Although it did not appear on Dec. 28, Anna'a hummingbird (1) was also added to the list as a "count week" species. It had been at Dennis & Linda Vogt's feeder until Dec, 26 but decided to disappear.

The information gathered on the winter distribution of bird species is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migrating birds. North American count results back to 1900 are available on Audubon's website,

The next Chelan CBC is Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. Contact Steve Easley at 509-682-2318 or Dan Smith at 509-682-9653 to volunteer.

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