Bird counts will excite young and old

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Dennis Clay

Audubonís 119th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between the dates of Friday, December 14, 2018 through Saturday, January 5, 2019. This is a fun and educational event. Volunteers around the world conduct a count of birds in selective areas.

This count has been a cooperative effort between the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the past and it may still be this way, but could find no reference to connect the two this year. Still, this is a super family-friendly event.

It is touted as the largest and longest-running citizen bird science project.

The basic idea is: The volunteers gather in the morning for this event, which is free. They receive instructions and head out in groups to count birds in a specific circle. They gather again at the end of the day to record the numbers.

There is no count indicated for Moses Lake, Ephrata or any place in the Columbia Basin. However, counts are scheduled for Spokane and other spots within 100 miles.

The backyard bird count is another free bird-counting event. It is scheduled for Feb. 15 through 18, 2019.

This is the easiest and, perhaps, the most exciting count in a family setting.

The birds can be counted at any location, such as the backyard or the local park or a school yard. The suggested counting time is 15 minutes, but the count can continue as long as the counters want to continue.

The counter will keep track of the number of species and individual birds seen. A flock or gaggle of geese in a wheat field is to be counted the best way the counter is able.

Sometimes counters will actually count a portion of the bird population, say 100 birds. Then count the other birds by using the area the first 100 birds covered, such as 100, move your area a bit and say 200 and then 300 and so on. The biologists tell me this is a rather accurate way to count.

The estimate of birds will be listed on a checklist. This count will be entered online at BirdCount.org. A new checklist will be used each day and at each location.

Example: A family may count the birds in the family backyard for 15 minutes and report the results. Then they could travel to a local city park and count the birds at this location for two hours, reporting the results at the end of the count.

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