Counting Birds for Fun and Science

Helpful tools when on the lookout for birds.

This is Passport to Texas

Counting birds at dawn during the Christmas Bird Count guarantees you’ll see lots of them—which can lead to confusion.

Especially if you get into a big flock of robins or grackles; you just have to start estimating numbers. But, it’s really fun when you start getting big numbers of species. You know, you’ve only been out for an hour and you already have 30 species of birds; that’s really fun.

Cliff Shackelford is a non-game ornithologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. This year’s count is December 14 through January 5.

There are over a hundred Christmas Bird Counts in Texas; so, chances are there’s one in existence in your area.

Counts take place in 15-mile diameter circles. Find a count circle at audubon.org.

Search for Christmas Bird Counts in Texas, and figure out which one is nearest you. Also, you’ll see who the compiler is, and you can get phone number or email and start coordinating with that person.

Compilers act as “captains” of their circles, and relay collected data to Audubon, which organizes the event. Birders of all skill levels are welcome.

And what they’ll do [if you’re a novice] is stick you with some seasoned vets, and that’s really good because you learn a lot when you’re out in the field with someone whose been doing this awhile. So you go out with this team of observers and you basically beat the bushes and try to see as much as you can see. It’s a lot of fun.

The data helps researchers better understand trends as they relate to our feathered friends. The WR restoration program supports our series.

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

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