There are many reasons to love birding. It keeps your mind and senses active. Listening, observing, trying to decide what bird you are watching are great exercises for the brain. It creates learning challenges for the visual, the sounds and the memory of birds you know, to come up with a bird’s identification.
There is also a sense of anticipation and excitement in a day of birding. One is always looking for a new or unusual sighting that gives birding the feeling of a treasure hunt. At times there are surprising discoveries! One year on the Eugene Christmas Bird Count, Dave Bontrager identified a rare Falcated Duck on a pond near Coburg. It was a cold, wet, windy day but he persisted in watching this bird riding the whitecaps on the pond, until he was certain of its identity. Way to go Dave!
How the Count Started
Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas Side Hunt. They would choose sides and go afield with their guns. Whichever team brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.
Conservation awareness was just in its beginning stages then, as many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent 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 (CBC). Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of 27 dedicated birders, 25 Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. Locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario, to Pacific Grove, California, with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America. The combined tally of the original 27 Christmas Bird Counters came to around 90 species.
In the present, from December 14 through January 5 each year, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas brave snow, wind, or rain to take part in the effort.
This year marks the 75th Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC) and the 117th National Audubon Society (NAS) Christmas Bird Count. This year’s ECBC will be on Sunday, January 1, 2017. Our 15-mile-diameter count circle is centered in the Danebo area of Eugene and is divided into 27 areas, each with a Team Leader. The Team Leaders organize the teams, lead the groups through the area during the count day, and then submit the results to the ECBC Steering Committee.
Dick Lamster is the Count Coordinator, and he will work with NAS on the administrative tasks of the count. He will also coordinate with the Team Leaders, handle publicity, co-write the post-count narrative, and assign new participants to teams. If you want to participate this year or change teams, call or email Dick. Otherwise, call your Team Leader from last year (although he or she might be calling you soon).
The response to our request in the November Quail for donations in support of Lane County Audubon Society has been outstanding this year. Your contributions during our annual fundraising drive help us continue to offer a variety of events and activities that promote an appreciation of birds throughout our region—bird walks, field trips, program meetings, school activities, conservation initiatives, and more.
LCAS will showcase local birding opportunities and our organization’s many bird-related educational activities at the 12th annual Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show January 20-22, 2017, at the Lane Events Convention Center at the Fairgrounds in Eugene.
Put this event on your calendar now—the show features hundreds of environmentally friendly vendors and offers dozens of helpful seminars and workshops throughout its three-day run.
Would you like to teach elementary school students about birds? The Audubon in the Schools program sends teams of volunteer instructors into the schools to teach third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students both science and art using bird specimens, feathers, bones, and nests. No teaching experience or artistic talent is required. All you need is an interest in teaching children and a few hours a month. You can check out the program by sitting in on a class.
Mark your calendars! Sunday, January 1, 2017, is the date for the 2016 Eugene Christmas Bird Count (ECBC). This will be the 75th ECBC and the 117th National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. Since this is a milestone for the ECBC, we are planning to have a small memento for the participants and a big anniversary cake at the chili feed. Dick Lamster is the Coordinator again this year, supported by the Steering Committee of Allison Mickel, Herb Wisner, Dan Gleason, and Barbara Gleason.