Judy Willott and others looking through scopes.                                Don Willott photo

Judy Willott and others looking through scopes. Don Willott photo

Bird watchers out for the count |Kitsap Birding

  • By Gene Bullock Kitsap Birding
  • Thursday, November 30, 2017 1:30am
  • Life

Following a 118-year-old Audubon holiday tradition, scores of Kitsap bird watchers will be spending two full days in December counting birds.

The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the longest-running bird census on the planet. Some 77,000 volunteers take part in more than 2,500 count circles. These citizen scientists collect data used by scientists to monitor bird population trends and track the northward shift in their winter ranges owing to changes in the climate.

Kitsap Audubon has been sponsoring CBCs in Kitsap County for 45 years. Starting this year, however, Kitsap Audubon is recruiting volunteers for two count circles, having revived one in North Kitsap that has been dormant for 18 years. Every CBC circle is 15 miles in diameter.

The traditional Kitsap County CBC will take place on Saturday, Dec. 16, and the newly activated North Kitsap CBC will take place on Dec. 30. There will also be a CBC warmup and orientation on Dec. 9, starting at 9 a.m. at Point No Point in Hansville. The orientation lets bird watchers new to the CBC meet some of the field team leaders and learn how it works and what’s involved.

Field teams are led by experienced birders; but all skill levels are welcome. Anyone can help spot, count and record sightings. The CBC is an enjoyable way to perform valuable citizen science, while improving your birding skills. Leaders enjoy sharing their passion, knowledge and skills with beginners. One caveat, however, is that the rigors and demands of winter CBCs make them unsuitable for younger children with short attention spans. The demands of a CBC leave leaders little time for covering all the necessary locations, so these are not leisurely family-oriented outings. Kitsap Audubon offers other family-oriented opportunities when the weather is more amicable.

CBCs also welcomes backyard bird watchers who, for one reason or another, are not up to tromping around with a field team, although backyard birders must live within the circle. Backyard birders simply spend that day tallying the birds in their own backyards and reporting their results to Janine Schutt, who coordinates this effort. But be sure to contact her in advance for instructions. Email Janine at jeschutt@hotmail.com (preferred), or call her at 360-839-4446.

Those interested in joining either or both Kitsap Audubon CBC circles should contact the field team leader directly. They are listed in the Kitsap Audubon December Kingfisher newsletter, available at www.kitsap audubon.org. Or you can contact me at genebullock @comcast.net or 360-394-5635.

— Gene Bullock has been organizing the Kitsap Audubon Christmas Bird Counts for 14 years.

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