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Tag Archive | "National Audubon Society"

Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count


This snowy owl photo was
taken in Monroe, Michigan
by Jerome Jourden.
Photo from the Audubon
Christmas Bird County photo gallery. 

While some local counts may be cancelled due to regional COVID-19 rules, many community scientists across the hemisphere will carry on one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in a socially distanced fashion.

By National Audubon Society

For the 121st year, the National Audubon Society is organizing the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of bird-loving volunteers will participate in counts across the Western Hemisphere all while abiding by Audubon’s COVID-19 guidelines. The twelve decades’ worth of data collected by participants continue to contribute to one of only two large existing pools of information notifying ornithologists and conservation biologists about what conservation action is required to protect birds and the places they need. 

The Audubon CBC is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. Each individual count takes place in a 15-mile-wide circle and is led by a compiler responsible for safely organizing volunteers and submitting observations directly to Audubon. Within each circle, participants tally all birds seen or heard that day—not just the species but total numbers to provide a clear idea of the health of that particular population. Wearing masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements for participants. 

“We know this year is going to be a very different Audubon CBC than in years past, but it is still a great tradition and opportunity for everyone to be a part of more than 120 years of ongoing community science,” said Geoff LeBaron, Audubon CBC director, who first started leading the community science effort in 1987. “Adding your observations to twelve decades of data helps scientists and conservationists discover trends that make our work more impactful. Participating in the Audubon CBC is a fun and meaningful way to spend a winter for anyone and everyone.” 

 When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, the Audubon CBC provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. The long-term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. For example, last year, Science published a study using decades of Audubon CBC data to describe a grim picture: a steady decline of nearly three billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities. Audubon CBC data has been used in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles. 

Audubon CBC data are also used to measure how birds are already responding to climate change. By tracking how bird ranges have moved over time, conservation efforts can be prioritized in areas that are important for birds today and in a climate-altered future. With two-thirds of North American bird species at increasing risk of extinction by the end of this century, Audubon CBC data is more important than ever for effective conservation. 

Last year, the 120th Audubon CBC included a record-setting 2,646 count circles, with 1,992 counts in the United States, 469 in Canada and 185 in Latin America, the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Pacific Islands. This was the tenth-straight year of record-breaking counts. In total, 81,601 observers out in the field and watching feeders tallied up more than 42 million birds representing more than 2,500 different species—around one-quarter of the world’s known avifauna. Unfortunately, this total of birds represents around 6 million fewer total birds than last year’s Audubon CBC total, which was itself a very low number historically. Audubon scientists are unclear what is responsible for the back-to-back lower-than-expected totals, but further research has already been discussed. To observe the trends of any particular species over the last twelve decades, please take a look here: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/where-have-all-birds-gone 

Some species-level highlights: 

Anna’s Hummingbirds are doing exceptionally well these days. This species’ numbers are increasing on counts in the Pacific Northwest. It is also being tallied in increasing numbers on counts in Southeast Alaska. 

Barred Owls are strengthening their presence in the Pacific Northwest, which is not necessarily good news for their beleaguered close cousins, Spotted Owls. Barred Owls have the tendency to out-compete Spotted Owls when both are present in a given territory. 

Sandhill Cranes are taking advantage of milder winters and less snow and ice cover, and are lingering into Audubon CBC period far north of their usual southwestern and south coastal wintering grounds.

The Audubon CBC is a community science project organized by the National Audubon Society. There is no fee to participate. The Audubon CBC is open to birders of all skill levels and Audubon’s free Bird Guide app makes it even easier to learn more. For more information and to find a count near you visit www.christmasbirdcount.org

 To sign up for an Audubon CBC and ensure your bird count data make it into the official Audubon database, please find the circle nearest you and register with your local Audubon CBC compiler. All Audubon CBC data must be submitted through the official compiler to be added to the long-running census. 

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety

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The Great Backyard Bird Count


 

A blue jay. Photo by Rose Pogoda, Sioux Lookout, ON, Canada Great Backyard Bird Count 2017

Every February, count for as little as 15 minutes in your own backyard to help expand our understanding of birds.

From Audubon.org

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.

Each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them and the environment we share. Last year, more than 160,000 participants submitted their bird observations online, creating the largest instantaneous snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.

The 21st annual GBBC will be held Friday, February 16, through Monday, February 19, 2018. Please visit the official website at birdcount.org for more information and be sure to check out the latest educational and promotional resources.

“This count is so fun because anyone can take part—we all learn and watch birds together—whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher. I like to invite new birders to join me and share the experience. Get involved, invite your friends, and see how your favorite spot stacks up,” said Gary Langham, Chief Scientist.

Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2014 GBBC data highlighted a large irruption of Snowy Owls across the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes areas of the United States. The data also showed the effects that warm weather patterns have had on bird movement around the country. For more on the results of the latest GBBC, take a look at the GBBC Summary at http://gbbc.birdcount.org/2017-gbbc-summary/and be sure to check out some of the images in the 2017 GBBC Photo Contest Gallery.

On the program website participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during and after the count. Be sure to check out the Explore a Region tool to get an idea of what you can expect to see in your area during the next GBBC.

For questions and comments, please contact the National Audubon Society or Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

National Audubon Society
citizenscience@audubon.org

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Inside the US: (800) 843-2473
Outside the US: (607) 254-2473)
gbbc@cornell.edu

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The Great Backyard Bird Count


This Red-tailed Hawk photo was taken by Peter Ferguson, 2015 GBBC.

This Red-tailed Hawk photo was taken by Peter Ferguson, 2015 GBBC.

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 17-20

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Now, more than 160,000 people of all ages and walks of life worldwide join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

We invite you to participate! For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 17-20, 2017, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish!

If you’re new to the count, or have not participated since before the 2013 merger with eBird, you must create a free online account to enter your checklists. If you already have an account, just use the same login name and password. If you have already participated in another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you can use your existing login information, too. Go to http://gbbc.birdcount.org/get-started/ to get started.

In 2016, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in more than 130 countries counted 5,689 species of birds on more than 162,000 checklists!

During the count, you can explore what others are seeing in your area or around the world. Share your bird photos by entering the photo contest, or enjoy images pouring in from across the globe. You can also add photos and sounds to your checklist.

Your help is needed every year to make the GBBC successful!

Then keep counting throughout the year with eBird (www.ebird.org) which uses the same system as the Great Backyard Bird Count to collect, store, and display data any time, all the time.

Why count birds?

Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document and understand the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.

Scientists use information from the Great Backyard Bird Count, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch, and eBird, to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer these data are collected, the more meaningful they become in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions, like these:

  • How will the weather and climate change influence bird populations?
  • Some birds, such as winter finches, appear in large numbers during some years but not others. Where are these species from year to year, and what can we learn from these patterns?
  • How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
  • How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
  • What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?

The Great Backyard Bird Count is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Bird Studies Canada and many international partners. The Great Backyard Bird Count is powered by eBird. 

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National birdfeeding month: Great Backyard Bird Count


 

It’s time again for the Great Backyard Bird Count. This photo of a male northern cardinal was taken in 2013 by Michele Black of Ohio.

It’s time again for the Great Backyard Bird Count. This photo of a male northern cardinal was taken in 2013 by Michele Black of Ohio.

Look for El Niño surprises during the Great Backyard Bird Count 

With the El Niño weather phenomenon warming Pacific waters to temperatures matching the highest ever recorded, participants in the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), may be in for a few surprises. The 19th annual GBBC is taking place worldwide February 12 through 15. Information gathered and reported online at birdcount.org will help scientists track changes in bird distribution, some of which may be traced to El Niño storms and unusual weather patterns.

“The most recent big El Niño took place during the winter of 1997-98,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program, which collects worldwide bird counts year-round and also provides the backbone for the GBBC. “The GBBC was launched in February 1998 and was pretty small at first. This will be the first time we’ll have tens of thousands of people doing the count during a whopper El Niño.”

“We’ve seen huge storms in western North America plus an unusually mild and snow-free winter in much of the Northeast,” notes Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “And we’re seeing birds showing up in unusual places, such as a Great Kiskadee in South Dakota, as well as unseasonal records like Orchard Oriole and Chestnut-sided Warbler in the Northeast. We’re curious to see what other odd sightings might be recorded by volunteers during this year’s count.”

Though rarities and out-of-range species are exciting, it’s important to keep track of more common birds, too. Many species around the world are in steep decline and tracking changes in distribution and numbers over time is vital to determine if conservation measures are needed. Everyone can play a role.

“Citizen-science projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count are springing up all over the world,” says Jon McCracken, national program manager at Bird Studies Canada. “More and more, scientists are relying on observations from the public to help them gather data at a scale they could never achieve before. The GBBC is a great way to get your feet wet: you can count birds for as little as 15 minutes on one day or watch for many hours each day at multiple locations—you choose your level of involvement.”

Learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count at birdcount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.

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Show birds some love on Valentine’s weekend


Snowy Owl. Diane McAllister-GBBC

Snowy Owl. Diane McAllister-GBBC

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count

Give Mother Nature a valentine this year and show how much you care about birds by counting them for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The 18th annual count is taking place February 13 through 16. Anyone in the world can count birds at any location for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org. The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track changes in bird populations on a massive scale. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.

Common Redpoll. Missy Mandel-GBBC

Common Redpoll. Missy Mandel-GBBC

Bird watchers fell in love with the magnificent Snowy Owl during the last count when the birds were reported in unprecedented numbers across southeastern Canada, the Great Lakes states, the Northeast, and down the Atlantic Coast. Expect Snowy Owls to show up in higher numbers during this year’s GBBC, too.

“It’s called an ‘echo flight,’” explains Marshall Iliff, eBird Project Leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “After a huge irruption like we had last winter, the following year often yields higher-than-usual numbers as well. The abundance of lemmings that produced last year’s Snowy Owl irruption likely continued or emerged in new areas of eastern Canada, more owls may have stayed east after last year’s irruption, and some of last year’s birds that came south are returning.”

“This may also be a big year for finches,” notes Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham. “GBBC participants in North America should be on the lookout for larger numbers of Pine Siskins and redpolls. These birds also push farther south when pine cone seed crops fail in the far north of Canada.”

Bird watchers from 135 countries participated in the 2014 count, documenting nearly 4,300 species on more than 144,000 bird checklists. That’s about 43 percent of all the bird species in the world! In addition to the U.S. and Canada, India, Australia, and Mexico led the way with the greatest number of checklists submitted.

“We especially want to encourage people to share their love of birds and bird watching with someone new this year,” says Dick Cannings at Bird Studies Canada. “Take your sweetheart, a child, a neighbor, or a coworker with you while you count birds for the GBBC. Share your passion and you may fledge a brand new bird watcher!”

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and show some love for the birds this Valentine’s Day. Participation is free and easy. To learn more about how to join the count, download instructions, a slide show, web buttons, and other materials, visit www.birdcount.org. While you’re there, get inspired by the winning photos from the 2014 GBBC photo contest.

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National bird feeding month


N-Birdfeeding-Snowy-Owl-1775_Diane-McAllister_British-Columbia_2013_350pxGet geared up for the Great Backyard Bird Count!

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, bird watchers from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 14–17, 2014. Anyone anywhere in the world can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org.

The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada.

“People who care about birds can change the world,” said Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “Technology has made it possible for people everywhere to unite around a shared love of birds and a commitment to protecting them.”

In North America, GBBC participants will add their data to help define the magnitude of a dramatic irruption of magnificent Snowy Owls. Bird watchers will also be on the lookout for the invasive Eurasian Collared-Dove to see if it has expanded its range again. GBBC observations may help show whether or not numbers of American Crows will continue to rebound after being hit hard by the West Nile virus and whether more insect-eating species are showing up in new areas, possibly because of changing climate.

Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time, thanks to integration with the eBird online checklist program launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab and Audubon. Participants reported their bird sightings from all 7 continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded—nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.

“This is a milestone for citizen science in so many respects—number of species, diversity of countries involved, total participants, and number of individual birds recorded. We hope this is just the start of something far larger, engaging the whole world in creating a detailed annual snapshot of how all our planet’s birds are faring as the years go by,” said Cornell Lab director Dr. John Fitzpatrick.

“Canadian participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count has increased tremendously in recent years, and it’s wonderful to see this program growing globally,” said Bird Studies Canada President Dr. George Finney. “The count is introducing unprecedented numbers of people to the exciting field of bird watching.”

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and make a difference for birds. It’s free and easy. To learn more about how to join the count visit www.birdcount.org and view the winning photos from the 2013 GBBC photo contest.

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No Child Left Inside Part 1


OUT-RangerSteveMuellerBy Ranger Steve Mueller

 

No child left inside is locally important for all things start at home. I emphasize what people can do to promote healthy nature niches on their property for families and wildlife. Our children are among those that live in our home nature niches.

An organized No Child Left Inside movement has been around for over a century in many forms by different names and sponsors. Field and Stream Clubs across the country have programs where youth get immersed in the outdoors. The emphasis focuses around hunting and fishing with a goal to help youth understand the natural world they depend on for life. They gave me a scholarship to wildlife camp for a week in 1964 where I learned about birds, mammals, fish, outdoor skills, and habitat management.

The National Audubon Society Junior Audubon program takes kids outdoors to experience birds, plants, insects, and all ecology our lives depend upon. The local Junior Audubon is the longest running program in North America according to Grand Rapids Audubon leader Wendy Tatar. My parents subscribed me to Junior Audubon booklets monthly for years that taught about soil, worms, insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, plant communities and the list goes on and on.

4H programs focus primarily on animal husbandry and plant propagation for making ones livelihood but it leads to understanding how all nature’s creatures like soil bacteria and mycorhiza fungus are essential for maintaining a healthy world. Paige Gebhardt, 4H student, graduated salutatorian this year from Cedar Springs High School and will attend Michigan State University studying wildlife programs. She told me this spring she would love to work with wolves and become a wildlife biologist to enhance healthy nature niches essential for the health of our community.

Boy and Girl Scout programs have been among the most influential for my personal development. Boy Scouts got me outside canoeing, camping, hiking, observing with focused activities where I could study the natural world. The leaders often did not have the best nature knowledge but they loved it. By the time I was in high school, scout leaders and other scouts often turned to me with nature questions because I immersed myself in outdoor study. The first nature book I bought with my own money was A Field to the Butterflies, by Alexander Klots. I had been chasing winged jewels for years and wanted better understanding.

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) is an organization of outdoor leaders and teachers focused on experiential outdoor recreational activities and for responsible environmental stewardship that is not environmentally destructive. I was president of MAEOE working to lead local communities in Michigan to help return environmental and outdoor education as a priority again in 2007. In 1986, Dale Elshoff and I both moved to Michigan and we were already trained Project WILD facilitators. Together we led the first statewide teacher training in Project WILD to establish it in Michigan. It is a form of no child left inside that teachers and organization leaders use with youth.

It was the beginning of June 2005 when I was called to the Kent ISD office and told to lay off the staff at the Howard Christensen Nature Center on the last day of school. The superintendent told me they were closing HCNC because environmental education was no longer a priority in America. I objected and he commented that he was not saying it was not important but it was no longer a priority in America, Michigan, or our community. There were several people throughout the county that contacted the ISD and even the Grand Rapids Press but environmental education had become a political football instead of a community value so it was closed. The Kent County Soil Conservation District reopened it a year later for two years and then a nonprofit organization called Lily’s Frog Pad assumed management. Their programs and community involvement are growing at HCNC to promote No Child Left Inside.

Next week’s nature niche will focus on the current No Child Left Inside movement.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net or Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

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