The 117th CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
On Friday, December 30th 2016, teams from Highlands County Audubon and Archbold Biological Station took part in the 30th Annual Lake Placid Christmas Bird Count (CBC). A great tradition among thousands of volunteers all over North America in birding, local participants counted every bird within a 15 mile diameter “Count Circle” centered in Lake Placid! Several party leaders with 2-4 field observers scoured a designated area counting every bird seen. Most began before dawn counting owls and early rising water and land birds, ending the day at dusk counting birds as they fly in to roost. Then down to Archbold’s dining hall to tally and report the day's event while enjoying refreshments & camaraderie. Our challenge was to submit the highest inland count and/or add new species to the list. The unofficial count is 149 species with two newbies added to the inland count. The two new species were American Avocet (a flock of 17) and a single Black-bellied Plover. Both were spotted in the new Scarborough Ranch wetlands.
Jon Greenlaw will compile and submit the records.
A valuable contribution to the count are the back yard birders who often see a bird no one else does.
Sue, Bob Hummel, Dr. Gray, and Helen Obenchain had fun out in Placid Lakes listening to the owls, who finally sounded off loud and clear. Roberta, Julie, and Jon Greenlaw enjoyed the scrub jays at Lake June Scrub State Park. A highlight was near Athrop Lake where three barn owls were flushed.
The full report will be published online. For further information visit www.audubon.org
Members of Highlands County Audubon participated in the Avon Park Christmas Bird Count on January 4, 2017. Teams scouted the Avon Park Air Force Range searching for and counting species from before dawn to after dusk. As is traditional with Christmas Bird Counts a highly qualified birder leads a party of 3 or 4 in a specified area while other teams are conducting their own count in their designated area. This year the swpecies count was unofficially 117 species.
Lake Placid Christmas Bird Count Photos
Scrub Jay Blue Gray Gnatcatcher / Pine Warbler / Phoebe
Mocking Bird / Merlin / Jon and Julie
Avon Park Air Force Range Christmas Bird Count Photo
Black crowned night heron
Making a difference! Birders of all abilities took part in the 29th Annual Lake Placid Count and the National Audubon Society 116th Christmas Bird Count. Every year the challenge is to find more species and individuals than in previous years within the 15 mile diameter Lake Placid Count Circle centered in Lake Placid near Highway 27 and Lake Grassy. Archbold Biological Station and Highlands County Audubon work together to arrange and oversee the 24 hour event. Many highly skilled observers from other areas of the state and out of state join locals to form teams searching for the “usual” and unusual or new species, many birders beginning before dawn searching for owls, rails and other “early birds”.
More than 60,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies and Pacific islands participate each year, between December 14 and January 5, in this all-day census counting every bird seen within a Count Circle in a 24 hour period. Truly citizen science in action, the results of the Christmas Bird Count are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing over a century of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas, studied by scientists and interested people all over the world.
Prior to the turn of the century, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt": They would choose sides, go afield with their guns and whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won. Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a "Christmas Bird Census"-that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Frank M. Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied a total of 90 species on all the counts combined and around 18,500 individuals. From this simple beginning the CBC has grown to a high of 2160 counts last year with 41,204 field observers and 5763 feeder-watchers in the US finding 654 species and 55,950,667 individuals.
Being an observer every year becomes a tradition and a challenge, with many observers taking part in 3 or more counts during the count period. The teams every year are looking forward to a day with good weather for a high count of bird species, including hopefully some rare, within our Circle. The results of past counts and information on counts can be found on the National Audubon web site http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count
We recommend wearing walking shoes, bringing a hat, binoculars, water and snacks, unless otherwise noted. For information and to reserve a spot on a birding trip call Helen 269-932-8934, Roberta 863-599-0124, or Julie 863-304-8385. Carpool and plan to leave promptly. It is always appreciated by the driver if you help with the cost of gas. If you truly enjoyed yourself a contribution toward our education and conservation efforts will be greatly appreciated.
Anyone wishing to arrange and/or lead a birding trip is encouraged to notify Helen or Roberta by e-mail. Pick a place and a date - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Help is needed and appreciated.
Suggestions for places and dates are also welcome.
Birding Check the Highlands County Audubon Photo and Accounts page for recent sightings and discussions. If you are coming to our area and would like to get in touch with local birders about locations and what's happening visiti our contacts page for phone numbers.
Birding Hotspots in Highlands County Highlands County offers excellent opportunities for birding. Information lists on several birding sites in Highlands County. and a few other great birding sites in neighboring counties are available. Please check our Calendar and Field Trip pages to learn more. All birding sites are productive, although you will find more variety during the spring and fall migration and the winter season.
iBirdathon! 2017 ..... Friday March 31, to Friday April 7
Prior to counting your birds you should secure a pledge for species count. This can be as small as 10 cents a species or as much as one wishes to pledge. My family members pledge from one to two dollars a species. The higher the pledge the greater the tax deductible donation to Highlands County Audubon Society. These monies are used to promote conservation and to place Audubon Adventures ( an educational magazine for children) in the county classrooms.
Spend 24 hours one day during the week and count species observed. For example: Red Winged Blackbird,
Mourning Dove, Crow, and Mocking Bird. This count is 4. Once you have a total contact your pledges and tell them your species count. They can then send their donation to: Treasurer, Highlands County Audubon, PO Box 814, Lake Placid Fl 33862.
Many thanks to all who birded in past years, and to those who pledged and have contributed thus far: If you have not yet contributed please think about doing so this year, as any amount will help! Added together we can meet our goal.
Birding Field Trips
Look on Calendar page and Field Trip page for coming dates and places