Friday, January 11, 2013

Christmas Bird Counts and How Young Birders Can Help Your Local Teams

Sarah Sass

Sarah at her first CBC in 2009

Have you ever been on a Christmas bird count?  Well, if you haven’t, I highly recommend it.  Not just for the sake of birding, but for the conversation.  Christmas bird counts are a good way to meet other birders who may just be the same age as you or they may just live near you.  Being young birders, we don’t all have a driver’s licenses.  Therefore, if you don’t have a parent into birding, it could be quite hard to get a ride to a birding hotspot such as Goose Pond.  Getting to know another birder that lives near you could help you get out to enjoy some of the birds that you may not have another opportunity to see.

One reason that young birders are needed on Christmas bird counts is that we offer great eyesight and excellent hearing.  Having young birders like us on the team can help to increase the number of birds that your team either sees or hears.  So don’t hesitate to find out when a team near you will head out for a full day of birding.

Lindsey and Sarah Sass in 2012

When you do meet a birder to hang out with while in the field, don’t be afraid to start a conversation, whether it’s about birds, family, or even yourself.   Birders love to hear birding stories, and even how that person started birding.  It’s important that you feel comfortable with the group that you are with, because on Christmas bird counts, you need to work as a group to spot things.  In many cases, you will need to shout out the birds that you think you see or hear so your group can clarify and count. 

Many Christmas bird counts have what’s called a compiling party at the end.  At a compiling party, all of the teams in that particular count will get their data recorded.  From what I just told you, the compiling party may sound kind of boring, but before you get your data recorded all of the birders get to hang out, tell stories, and eat some food.  It’s kind of like a small potluck.  All of the birders bring food to share at the party.  You can meet even more birders!  There are plenty out there, and compiling parties are one of the best places to meet other birders. So never overlook the compiling party. 

So, when our birding mentors are no longer around, we young birders will need to step in and carry on what the last generation did.  It is best to start birding at a young age to have more experience.  I started birding when I was eight years old, and I have been into walking and the outdoors since I was only two years old!  My life list has 251 species on it, and my last life bird, the Merlin, I got on a Christmas bird count.  I have participated in four Christmas bird counts just this season, and I have enjoyed every one of them.  That’s the basic information about Christmas bird counts and why young people like us need to get involved in Christmas bird counts.  

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