By Keith Bruno
Weminuche Audubon Society
It’s that time again, where we layer up and grab our binoculars to head out birding for the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). In fact, this year’s count marks the 122nd year of the longest-running citizen science census in the Western Hemisphere.
Last year, nearly 70 participants contributed in various capacities (birding at home feeders, from cross-country skis and snowshoes) to log 4,746 birds of 66 species across Weminuche Audubon Society’s 15-mile diameter circle. We had a number of youth birders join us as well.
This year, we’re encouraging anyone interested to jump in and have some fun with us observing the winged-ones. Data compiled helps avian scientists to better predict and thus protect bird populations as they move across the landscape during a time of sustained stressors. We need your help.
The Pagosa Springs 2021 CBC will take place on Dec. 18. In the event of inclement weather on Dec. 18, the proposed alternate date for the count is Dec. 19. In the wake of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, we will be splitting our zones into smaller sub-zones for the purpose of avoiding carpooling, encouraging walking and birding closer to home, and taking all state recommended considerations into account for a safe CBC. All ages and abilities are welcome.
In order to prepare for the count, Weminuche Audubon and Audubon Rockies will host bird identification classes, “Winter Birds 101,” for three evenings leading up to the count. We’ll cover waterfowl on Dec. 1, songbirds on Dec. 8 and raptors (plus CBC protocols and review) on Dec. 15. All evening sessions will be held virtually on Zoom from approximately 6 to 8 p.m. and in person at the Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street. People attending in person are encouraged to wear masks indoors.
For virtual sign-on information, consult www.weminucheaudubon.org closer to the first class. We hope you’ll join in on the effort to log birds and contribute to community science. For more information about the CBC, visit https://www.audubon.org/conservation/join-christmas-bird-count or check out our website at www.weminucheaudubon.org. To get involved, please contact Keith Bruno at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jean Zirnhelt at email@example.com.
Lastly, there will be a CBC tally wrap-up and chili dinner for participants held at the Community United Methodist Church on the evening of Dec. 19 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.