Audubon groups need eyes for bird tally Birders around the South Sound will be heading afield in the coming weeks to take part in the 112th annual Christmas Bird Count.
Led by the Audubon Society, the mission of the event is to identify, count and record as many different bird species as seen in a particular area. The count takes place in a two-week period around Christmas.
While gathering data is the key, the count is not solely for the serious birder.
“We welcome everybody. It is a bit different from a normal field trip in that we are trying to cover the entire area before sunset,” said Faye McAdams Hands, the area coordinator for the Tahoma Audubon Society.
“You don’t have to stay in one spot all day, nor participate all day long,” said Olympia area count organizer Bill Shelmerdine
One of the primary purposes for the county is to gather data over time, and in multiple areas, to see if the population of any given bird, or family of birds, changes and to attempt to attribute a reason, McAdams Hands said.
“Have they moved to other, possibly adjacent areas? Has there been a marked loss in suitable habitat? Has there been an oil spill or other catastrophic event? Has the weather affected the birds – or the counters? Is the water iced over where it is normally clear – nudging the birds to land elsewhere,” she said.
In recent years, the Tacoma area count has show a decline in starling numbers, as well as ducks and grebes, especially Western grebes, McAdams Hands said.
On the positive side, the number of Anna’s hummingbirds, which once totaled one or two a year, have been holding steady in the mid to high 50s since 2003. The bald eagle count remain in the 40-50 range.
The Tahoma Audubon Society will hold its count on Saturday. The chapter spreads out over eight areas within the 15-mile diameter count circle.
Contacts: McAdans Hands said interested people should directly contact the coordinator for the area in which they want to count.
Area 1: North Tacoma, including Point Defiance Park, Ruston, Proctor District south to Sixth Street; Art Wang, 253-752-1714.
Area 2: Northeast Tacoma and Brown’s Point to Dash Point State Park, and the Port of Tacoma area to the Puyallup River, Faye McAdams Hands, 253-942-9233.
Area 3: Gig Harbor area; Diane Yorgason-Quinn, 253-857-3367.
Area 4: Hillsdale, Parkland, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Roxy and Bill Giddings, 253-537-3075.
Area 5: Fircrest, University Place and Lakewood; Rolan Nelson, 253-330-9545.
Area 6: Steilacoom and American Lake; Marcus Roening, 253-756-0215.
Area 7: Fife area; Shelley Parker, 253-862-9350.
Area 8: Day Island, Titlow Beach and Tacoma north of Fircrest through downtown to the Puyallup River; Ruth Sullivan, 253-564-7419.
The Blackhills Audubon Society will hold its count Dec. 18.
The chapter divides the Olympia area into 16 land and water zones for counting. Last year, participants counted 124 species.
“The success of our count depends on the intensive effort of participants willing to volunteer to spend the whole day in the field, regardless of weather, counting all the birds in their group’s assigned count area,” Shelmerdine said. “That’s the ideal, but we realize that people have busy lives. Come for a few hours if that is all you have time for.”
The evening ends with a chili feed shortly after dark at the Gull Harbor Lutheran Church, 4610 Boston Harbor Road, Olympia.
Contact: Shelmerdine at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the BHAS message phone at 360-352-7299.
When: Dec. 31
Contact: Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Society; Richard Rogers at 206-463-9925 or email@example.com.
When: Jan. 1, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Contact: Rainier Audubon Society, Nancy Streiffert at nancy firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-796-2203