Bird count needs you

Join the growing number of bird enthusiasts across the world by participating in the local Hood River Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Information is available now on how to become involved and why the event is important.

The annual count will conduct a census of the birds found during one 24-hour period on Dec. 30 in a designated circle 15 miles in diameter, addressing about 177 square miles.

The Hood River CBC began in 1988 and is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Many residents volunteer for the count, but more are still needed.

Wildlife biological services technician CJ Flick is the organizer, facilitator, and compiler for the Hood River CBC for the annual Audubon-sponsored event.

According to Flick, over 55,000 volunteers across North America, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, Pacific islands, and Antarctica count and record birds seen in just over 2000 Christmas Bird Count circles.

The CBC started over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, this small group proposed an alternative to the “side hunt,” a Christmas day activity in which teams of men competed to see who could shoot and kill the most birds and small mammals.

Instead, this group’s alternative proposed to identify, count, and record all the birds “seen.”

Anyone who volunteers for the local event will get to decide if they want to participate as a “field” or as a “feeder-watcher” volunteer or both.

“We start our day by meeting for breakfast at the Hood River Inn (in the Best Western) on Dec. 30 at 6:30 a.m. We get acquainted and are introduced to our group leaders. Groups decide where each field group is surveying so there is little to no overlap, and I introduce new volunteers to the Christmas Bird Count itself. If you can’t make it for breakfast, please show up by 7:15 a.m. as we head out by 7:30 a.m.”

As a “field” participant with a designated group leader, volunteers can go out in the field for one hour, two hours, a half-day or a full day.

“For those going into the field, we dress for all winter weather conditions. Clothing layers are a must,” said Flick, who suggests the following supplies: long underwear, wool or polypro shirts, sweaters or such, hat, two pair of gloves, and outer raingear; binoculars (6x30, 7x35 or 8x40 best); water; snacks and lunch; waterproof & warm winter boots.

For more information contact Flick at 509-493-1195 or

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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