By Dottie George
Special to The SUN
The longest-running citizen science survey in the world, Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count was celebrated in Pagosa Springs on Dec. 14.
Fifty-two hardy volunteers, equipped with binoculars and cameras, surveyed snowy roads and walkways within the 15-mile-diameter Pagosa count circle. Seven more area residents observed birds that visited their home feeders. The day culminated in a festive chili supper, where bird counts were tallied and stories about the day’s sightings were shared.
A total of 61 species and 5,247 individual birds were counted. These were record numbers for Weminuche Audubon Society, partnering with Audubon Rockies, which began contributing to the bird survey in 2011. Observers at the area’s unfrozen lakes spotted 468 American wigeons, 185 ring-necked ducks and 816 American coots.
Local data has been reported to the National Audubon Society, which began this conservation effort in 1900. The data aids scientists who study past and present bird populations to gain insight into the general health of our environment. A copy of the complete local report is available at www.weminucheaudubon.org.
Weminuche Audubon will take part in another important citizen science project, The Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 13-16. All are invited to attend an informational meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 4, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the Ross Aragon Community Center, to learn more about how to participate.