CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT

 

2021 December 18 SATURDAY Choctawhatchee Audubon CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT 2021. Malcolm Swan and Bruce Purdy coordinate our Audubon CBC circle in this worldwide citizen science event (all experience levels welcome). The 15-mile-diameter circle is centered 4 mi N of the Marler (Destin) Bridge over East Pass, and the circle is divided into many sections for the different parties of observers. Contact Malcolm (210`452`4899 to text) to participate in one of the parties. PDF with local bird ID tips

 

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The Choctawhatchee Audubon Society began conducting a Christmas Bird Count inside a large circle in southern Okaloosa County in 1976. This year (2021), you are invited as always, and the date is Saturday, December 18th. We hope you are interested in joining this outdoor activity and contributing to citizen science. You may not be familiar with Christmas Bird Counts; the key is the word "Count" and participants mark numbers of birds each species seen or heard every 5-20 minutes or so onto a check-list. Of course, Christmas Bird Count participants cannot possibly find all of the birds in a Count Circle. The participants simply keep track of the miles and hours spent birding. The ratio of birds to hours (or miles) gives scientists data to compare other Christmas Counts across the U.S., across the World, and from year to year, from decade to decade.

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The Choctawhatchee Audubon's 15-mile diameter Count Circle is centered 1.8 miles south of a point in the Destin FWB Airport. Our Count Circle is divided into about 15 Count Areas, each of which are usually birded (i.e., covered) by a leader and several accompanying people of various skill levels. This year, to minimize the risk of COVID-19, we will use a different way to cover the Count Areas. We will not be using leaders and instead of using 15 big parties of people, we will use many more small parties. The parties may be (for examples...) a wife and husband, a person birding alone, a Mom and son and/or daughter, two or three close friends, or other very small group of people who are close in friendship or relationship. Many of you may feel uncomfortable in the role of a Count participant; after all, your "task" is to identify at least some of the birds that you see. To make that easier, we are furnishing a check-list of birds listed in order of how likely you will see them in southern Okaloosa County. If you see a warbler, the check-list will tell you that the Yellow-rumped Warbler is by far the most common species, Palm Warbler is the second-most common warbler, and they are followed up by Common Yellowthroat and Orange-crowned Warbler. All four are very different from each other, so having such a list will make identifying the birds much easier for you.

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Where you go depends on what places YOU choose, unlike previous years. The following link shows a map of the Count, with Count Areas and the Count Circle turned on (visible) by default.

VIEW our Christmas Bird Count map at GOOGLE MAPS

Look at the map to see which Count Area interests you. To dig deeper, you'll want to turn on & off map layers in the Legend (which hides if you use a phone, so try clicking Cancel when prompted, Open in "Google Maps"?). Once the legend works for you, try the layer named Sites (click the box to show the list). Each site is labeled with a Number (indicating the Count Area) and a letter (unique to each site in the Count Area). Plan to visit 5 to 20 of the sites in that Count Area. You are welcome to visit a couple sites out of your chosen Count Area. Pick a Count Area near where you live (especially if you live in or near the Count Circle. Some reasons for picking an area close to your home include your bathroom, your microwave, and other amenities. Some places are covered very well by very experienced birders, notably the Okaloosa Holding Ponds, the Wright Landfill, Veterans Park on Okaloosa Island, and the Destin jetties. We don't want to preclude you from visiting those areas, but we want you to emphasize 5-15 places in your chosen Count Area. We would like you to do a separate check-list (see attached) for each site. That way, if different parties visit the same site, the compilers can reconcile check-lists so that birds aren't counted twice in the final totals. You can expect to do a site in 10-20 minutes, large sites maybe an hour or even two.

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Many of us try to dedicate much of the day to birding. We hope you can do whatever pleases you. But please contact us soon so we can send you paper check-lists and begin answering your questions for the 2021 Christmas Bird Count. Thank you for reading. And thank you for helping in this effort to educate ourselves about local birds and to learn more about their populations.

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Good Birding,

Malcolm Mark Swan and Bruce Purdy

Choctawhatchee Audubon Christmas Bird Count Coordinators

210`452`4899

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