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 stewart@gorge.net.

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