Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Bird Count

Though I enjoy birding, I had never participated in a Christmas bird count. That is when Audubon and birding groups all across the nation do an annual one-day survey of as many birds and bird species as can be located in specific areas. This allows comparison, year after year, of exactly the same area to monitor population changes.

On Saturday Cyndi and I participated in the count in Nampa and on Sunday we did the same for Boise. This meant getting up very early in the morning and beginning to bird at daybreak ... then covering as much of our assigned portion of the area as possible as long as there was daylight.

The Boise area is a circle with a radius of 7.5 miles, centered on the capitol building. It was divided into about 14 areas and we scoured one of those smaller areas, first with three very experienced birders in the morning, then by ourselves in the afternoon. We carefully documented what we saw and counted the birds as accurately as possible.

Here is the spot we went to first in Boise, on Sunday morning. The sunrise was beautiful and the birds on this partially-frozen pond were just waking up. A Bald Eagle flew into the tree against the sunrise colors and a Merlin was seen there as well.

There were 832 Canada Geese out there, along with about 70 Northern Shovelers, a Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, and a couple of Coots. There were some Cackling Geese, too.

I took this photo on Saturday, on the Nampa count. Though birds are the objective, this old barn with the horses was a nice bit of local color I couldn't ignore.

One unexpected bird my group of four located in Nampa was this Great Egret. They usually leave when the weather gets cold, so it was neat to document this straggler.

Idaho has a lot of raptors (birds of prey) of all types. Cyndi and I located this Cooper's Hawk.

We saw quite a few Bald Eagles over the course of the day. This adult flew down the Boise River, then perched in this tree in the early dawn light.

I'm not sure, but I think this is a birdhouse. Hear what I'm saying, squirrel, *bird*house.

Some birds can be tough to identify. Here Cyndi is using her binoculars on an unusual, large pink bird seen near a feeder on somebody's lawn.


Robert Mortensen said...

It was great to meet you in person Saturday!

Heidi said...

cool photos! it was fun birding with the two of you. I didnt see the flamingo in the report on IBLE, haha! ;)

Emily said...

hahaha! Way to go, Mom. Idahoan flamingos in December are a rarity. Congrats to both of you on your find!