Archive for October 30th, 2017

Circle the Birders and Start Counting

Monday, October 30th, 2017
Christmas Bird Count participants. Photo: Camilla Cerea/Audubon

Christmas Bird Count participants. Photo: Camilla Cerea/Audubon

This is Passport to Texas

The annual Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society, takes place any day between, and including, December 14th and January 5th.

There are over a hundred count circles in Texas, and they have them on different days where people can move around and visit multiple Christmas counts during that Christmas count season.

Nongame ornithologist, Cliff Shackelford says many of the 15-mile diameter count circles are decades old.

Teams of birders go in that circle and they repeat that every year. And after decades, you have some really neat data to look at. You can see trends.

Bird count circles for 2017-18. Image from counting circles.

You can see which ducks are maybe on the increase – or on the decline. You can [even] see certain species that we can irruptive species – like red breasted nuthatch and purple finch.

A compiler picks a day for participants to count birds within a specific circle over a 24-hour period.

We use that information to determine where hot spots are for certain species.

It’s easy to get involved. Just go to

Look for a Christmas Bird Count circle near you. And associated with that circle will be the compiler. Contact that person and say, ‘Hey. I’d like to contribute. I’d like to be partnered with a team that maybe has some experts.’ And that to me is the best way to learn birds: go out with experienced people. You will learn so much more than from a book.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.