From: Richie Swanson
President, Winona Bird Club
The Winona Bird Club hosts its annual Christmas Count on Saturday, December 14. If you’re interested in tallying birds along a count route, please meet at Mugby Junction, 451 Huff Street, at 7 a.m. Organizers will help you choose a route and may be able to pair you with an expert birder, or enable you to mentor a less-experienced birder.
Participants drive along Stockton Hill, Garvin Heights, East and West Burns Valley, Cedar Valley, Prairie Island, and other places. They stop, listen, watch and walk as much as possible, and also politely (without trespassing) count birds at feeders. Many count until noon. Others count the entire day and listen for owls at night. Others pick up a feeder count sheet and count their feeders at home. Counters meet at 5 p.m. in the backroom at Blooming Grounds, 50 East Third Street, to celebrate our sightings.
The journal Science reported in September that North America has lost one-third of its birdlife in the last 50 years. “A quarter of all blue jays have disappeared, along with almost half of all Baltimore orioles,” said the New York Times. “More than half of our grassland birds have disappeared, 717 million in all. Forests have lost one-billion birds.”
This year the journal Science also linked neonicotinoids — the world’s most widely used insecticide — to the decline in songbirds. Neonicotinoids diminish insects that birdlife relies upon and also appear to impair behavior and induce weight loss in some species.
Birders can help, at least in a small way, by participating in the Christmas Count. Scientists combine CBC data with other studies to assess changes in species’ populations and annual ranges. CBC data helps assess impacts of climate change and helps determine conservation priorities.
Spend the day counting, you never know when a feathered miracle like a snowy owl, rough-legged hawk, belted kingfisher, or even an out-of-season hermit thrush or yellow-rump warbler might brighten your efforts. You’ll probably also meet new and old friends who will celebrate your love of nature with you.
Lorraine Kilmartin, count coordinator, will answer questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 452-5727.