Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Bird Count, Anchorage

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count, it is a volunteer effort to take a census of winter bird populations. The event got started 110 years ago as an alternative to the Christmas Side Hunt. That was a yearly activity where idiots with guns went out on Christmas Day to shoot every bird, and animal they could find. They would load them onto awagons, and at the end of the day, take a tally of who shot the most critters. Most of their victims were never eaten.
Thankfully those days are long over, but the CBC lives on. It has become an important indicator of the health of regional bird populations. I have covered the same area in Anchorage with Owen Hughes, (who is 90) for 13 years.
We always start out at the crack of dawn, 9:30am, in Alaska. We keep going until well after sunset, 3:30pm. Before moving to Alaska, I participated in CBC's in Northern Arizona for many years.

This is where we started our count. It's a tiny park, next to the Chester Creek Greenbelt. The temperature was -5f, -20c, when we left our houses.

The first birds we encountered were Bohemian Waxwings. We counted 163 of them in total. In some years, we get 3000+.
Another photo of little black specks. These are American Robins. We saw 45 in all. That's way more than usual, we are lucky to get even one most years.

Black-billed Magpie.

There were 10 magpies today.

We saw 30 Ravens.
The only other species we saw were 6 Black-capped Chickadees. Five species altogether, that's our all-time low. 14 is our highest number ever. These totals are pathetic compared to the old Arizona counts. Once I participated in a CBC in San Blas, Mexico. We got 300+ species on that day.

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