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Christmas Bird Count

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When: Jan 03, 2015 from 07:00 am to 05:00 pm
Wink Gross

What’s the oldest and grandest tradition in birding? Christmas Bird Counts, of course! All over the Americas, birders will be participating in one-day counts between Dec. 14, 2013 and Jan. 5, 2014. Portland Audubon counters will be heading out Saturday, Jan. 4.

Christmas Bird Count 2013 - Tinsley Hunsdorfer
Christmas Bird Counters plan their route through Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge - Tinsley Hunsdorfer

By Wink Gross, compiler, Portland Christmas Bird Count

The Portland Christmas Bird Count wants YOU…

…to count birds on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015! Whether spending an entire day in the field or even just an hour watching your bird feeder, you can contribute significantly to our knowledge of bird life in the Portland area — even if you’re a beginning birder. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is the longest running “citizen science project” in North America. The results have provided critical information on the status and changes in bird populations over the 115 years it has been conducted. Please help out this year!

Begun in 1900 as an alternative to the traditional wanton slaughter of anything that flew during Christmas Day “side hunts,” hundreds of Christmas Bird Counts are now conducted throughout the Western Hemisphere, and they continue to contribute valuable scientific data to the longest existing record of bird population trends. Naturally, everyone likes the idea of contributing to science, but the real reason they’ve exploded in popularity? They’re so much fun!

All over the Americas, birders will be participating in one-day counts between Dec. 14, 2014 and Jan. 5, 2015. This winter, our 89th Portland count will be held on Saturday, Jan. 3. The Audubon Society of Portland conducted its first Christmas Bird Count in 1926. Last year a record 262 field observers and 153 feeder watchers found 123 species. Those 415 participants made the Portland CBC the largest in the U.S. and second only to Edmonton in the Americas. Please join us this year!

The best way to participate in the Christmas Bird Count is as a field observer. It’s a great way for birders of all levels to enjoy a day outdoors and sharpen their birding skills. You will also have the opportunity to meet others who share your interest in birds, and you’ll discover some good local spots to find birds. And you will contribute to scientific knowledge. In fact, the Christmas Bird Count is an excellent way for the amateur birder to advance ornithology: The data are sent to the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University, where over the years Christmas Bird Count records have been used to study changes in bird populations and wintering ranges. A quite amazing bibliography of Christmas Bird Count research and the entire historical record of all Christmas Bird Counts may be found at birds.audubon.org/data-research.

Each Christmas Bird Count attempts to count all the birds in a 15-mile-diameter circle on one given day. In addition to the Portland count, roughly 50 other counts will be conducted in Oregon and SW Washington during the three weeks surrounding the holidays. A list of counts in NW Oregon and SW Washington can be found below — and it’ll be updated regularly as counts are added, so check often!

The other, also important, way to participate is as a Feeder Watcher. The feeder you watch must be within the 15-mile-diameter CBC circle (please check your location on the detailed CBC Google map; zoom out to view the entire circle, shaded in blue) — but even if you can watch for only an hour, your observations will be helpful. Last year, one of the best birds found on the Portland CBC was a Mountain Chickadee spotted by an alert Feeder Watcher in Lake Oswego.

Get Involved

CBC map

Want to participate as a field observer in the Portland Christmas Bird Count? Look at the map of the Portland CBC circle on this page and pick an area you would like to help cover (it need not be where you reside). Contact the area leader, who will tell you where and at what time to meet on Jan. 3. The area leaders will put together teams to balance birding skills and cover as much of their area as possible. Most teams go out for the whole day, 7 a.m.–5 p.m., but you can usually make arrangements if you need to stop earlier. Can’t decide which area? Contact Wink Gross at winkg@hevanet.com or 503-226-3842.

Need to brush up your identification skills? Eric Scheuering, Portland Audubon’s Adult Education Programs Manager, is offering a special class in field identification of birds expected on the count.

Want to be a Feeder Watcher? Check your location first at tinyurl.com/26pmmpf (zoom out to view the entire circle, shaded in blue) to be sure the feeder you’ll watch is within the 15-mile-diameter circle, and download the Feeder Watcher checklist. Remember, only birds seen on Jan. 3 “count”!

Can’t do the Portland count on Jan. 3? Check out the other counts around the state. Pick one that suits your schedule, and contact the compiler directly. Check this site often as it will be frequently updated.

What to bring: Binoculars, of course! Be prepared for a day outdoors in Oregon in the winter. That means warm clothes, rainwear, and waterproof shoes. The counts are generally held as scheduled, rain or shine. Bring a bag lunch and snacks. Last but not least, bring an enthusiastic attitude and a willingness to search quietly and patiently for birds. All Christmas Bird Counts are free.

Almost every Christmas Count turns up an unusual bird, and often it’s a beginner who first spots it. Last year, in addition to the Mountain Chickadee and Snow Geese, we found American Dipper (winning Karen Harris the “Eagle-Eye Award”), Gray Jay, and Red-breasted Merganser. Perhaps YOU will be the person who finds the bird that makes everyone say, “Wow! We never expected that!”

Area Leaders for Portland Christmas Count

Area 1: Columbia Riparian
Tony DeFalco | 503-224-2064 | waxwing7@gmail.com

Area 2: Southeast Portland
Dan Strong | 971-717-1538 | dancbcpdx@gmail.com

Area 3: Lake Oswego
Lynn Herring | 503-442-8973

Area 4: Beaverton
Lori Hennings | 503-797-1940 or 503-329-5003 | lori.hennings@oregonmetro.gov

Area 5: Northwest Hills/Forest Park
Eric Scheuering | 971-222-6119 or 503-381-0846 | escheuering@audubonportland.org

Other Oregon Counts

Klamath Falls - Sunday, Dec. 14
Kevin Spencer | 541-880-8015 | rriparia@charter.net

Salem - Saturday, Dec. 20
Tim Johnson | tim.the.fisherman@gmail.com
Barbara Dolan | barbara.dolanbird@yahoo.com

Gilliam - Tuesday, Dec. 23
Darrel Faxon | 5hats@peak.org

Coquille Valley - Saturday, Jan. 3
Harv Schubothe | ninerharv2@msn.com

Yaquina Bay - Saturday, Jan. 3
Dawn Harris | 541-961-1307 | oregoncoastbirding@gmail.com

More Information

View a summary of the 88‐year history of the count, with details for the last 10 years, and take a look at Christmas Bird Count FAQs.

Northern Pygmy Owl - Scott Carpenter
Northern Pygmy Owl - Scott Carpenter
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