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Birds, stand up and be counted!

December 30, 2011

Bird counts give an idea of how many migrant and resident geese may be in a particular area.

Along with the winter holiday season comes a time for birdwatchers to take to the field and survey the species and numbers of birds they see. Any bird gets counted; if it has feathers and not in a cage, it gets tallied. This is the time for the Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

The CBC was started in 1900 by Frank Chapman, an ornithologist with the newly formed Audubon Society. Since that time, the CBC has grown to thousands of participating agencies, bird clubs and individuals. As of 2 p.m. on December 21, there have been 2,125 counts from various groups nationwide reporting to the Audubon Society, with over 61 million birds counted, providing ornithologists and other scientists a snapshot of how individual species and birds in general are faring in various regions.

Most bird clubs in the area are participating, and many are taking a day to count and see which group in the club counts the most birds. The Sussex County (NJ) Bird Club had a count day on December 18, and counted 86 different species among all the members participating. The count period runs until January 5, so there is still time to get in on the fun. For more information, visit www.audubon.org.