2020 Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Date: Saturday, Dec 19, 2020
Leader: Bill Boeh
Please allow me to inform you regarding an opportunity to support an important bird conservation effort. Anyone can participate--even those who are quarantining or isolating due to COVID-19 or have mobility issues. That opportunity is the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC).
For those who are not familiar, the CBC is a bird census that has been conducted by the National Audubon Society since 1900. It is held annually from December 15th to January 5th within15-mile diameter geographic “circles” in the U.S., Canada, and other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Each circle has a compiler who manages the count in their assigned circle (for more information visit the Audubon’s CBC web page at http://www.audubon.org/conservation/join-christmas-bird-count).
As it has since 1952, the Hampton Roads Bird Club will be sponsoring the 2020 CBC. Our count will take place on Saturday, Dec 19, 2020 (rain or shine) within the Newport News Circle (depicted below). The circle is divided into 13 sectors, each headed by a sector leader who coordinates the count in their sector.
There are two ways you can participate—by observing in the field or by feeder-watching. Field observers count birds in the field as part of a sector team (this can include “owling” as well as observing during daytime). Feeder watchers record observations at a feeder.
By participating, you can act as a “citizen-scientist” by collecting data that is vital for bird conservation. According to the Audubon website, the data collected by observers over the past century has allowed Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys, such as the Virginia Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years. This long term perspective is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well.
Why is this important? Birds are not doing well. According to Cornell’s All About Birds website, wild bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada have dropped by almost 30% since 1970— a 2.9 billion decline in bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada.
Of course, as with any social activity, there are COVID-19 guidelines that must be followed in order to conduct the count safely. All participants will be expected to adhere to Audubon’s COVID-19 guidelines, listed below:
Cancel in-person compilation gatherings.
Carpool only within existing familiar or social “pod” groups.
Maintain six feet of social distancing or wear face coverings whenever distancing cannot be maintained (e.g., when congregating to consult a field guide).
Comply with current state Phase 3 COVID-19 guidelines, which include frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer (e.g., before/after each stop).
In addition, the Hampton Roads Bird Club’s guidelines (below) for field activities must also be followed:
Limit group size and/or divide into multiple parties to enable distancing.
Avoid sharing spotting scopes or other equipment.
Minimize congregating in close quarters to consult birding guides.
Finally, please be aware that you may be able to participate in multiple counts, since there are other circles nearby that conduct their counts on various dates. Go to https://tinyurl.com/svotc8z to view a map of CBC circles. Zoom in on our region and click on neighboring circles to view the count date and compiler’s contact information.
So please be part of this great tradition and support this important citizen science effort. It’s great fun and a meaningful way to help bird conservation efforts--and for those new to Hampton Roads, a terrific way to be introduced to some of the best birding sites in our region. Sign up by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org (preferred method) or by phone at 757-951-7959. Please advise in your email whether you’d like to participate in the field or by feeder-watching.
Newport News Circle Christmas Bird Count Compiler
Fall 2020 "Virtual" Virginia Big Day
Leader: Dave Youker
The results are in for our first, virtual Big Day held on 7 Nov. If you haven't submitted your list, you can still forward it to me. I was impressed with the number of checklists, the diversity of species, and the resolve of some members to put in some long days birding. Birds from backyards to seagoing to every habitat in between were identified. Here are the results:
The weather for the Big Day was very pleasant, except many members had to contend with a heavy fog. Still, we had an impressive total of 36 club members participate! A total of 24 checklists were submitted, and the consolidated species list stands at 136! If anyone is interested in the overall list, I'd be happy to forward it.
Thanks to all the members that participated in this club activity. The feedback has been very positive, so maybe we can do it again next year.
2020 Winter Bird Count in Newport News Park
Winter Count of Newport News Park
Saturday, 7-10 AM, January 25, 2020
The 2020 Newport News Park Winter Count is a dedicated HRBC survey which is not tied to larger state or country-wide campaign. As with previous years there will be 5 sectors, each with a leader who is responsible for keeping the count on ebird. The sectors are:
Section 1: Campground
Section 2: West of Constitution Ave.
(Ranger Station Lakeside)
Section 3: East of Constitution Ave. (Arboretum/Discovery Center)
Section 4: White Oak Trail
(Swamp Bridge to Spawning Pond)
Section 5: Golf Course/Bluebird Trail
The support of scientific birding is a central focus of our club. In December and May we lead counts for each species over the entire lower Peninsula. The twice a month Sunday walks at the park provide information not covered in the December/May counts. Although useful to list the species seen, the Sunday records do not provide the numbers of individuals seen.
A sign-up sheet showing the five sectors will be passed around at the January meeting. Or you can contact me by phone or email (home 757-873-0721, cell 757-660-3405, email@example.com). The groups will meet at the large shelter by the Ranger Station at 7:00 AM and review assignments. The groups will return to the shelter by 10:00 AM to share coffee and donuts and discuss the mornings sightings. This is an easy, fun activity.
2020 HRBC Spring Bird Count Cancelled for COVID-19
Results of 2019 Audubon Christmas Bird Count - Click Here
Results of 2019 HRBC Spring Bird Count - Click Here
Results of 2018 Audubon Christmas Bird Count - Click Here
Photography by Dianne Snyder
The efforts of 48 observers (the vast majority of which were HRBC members) resulted in the observation of 18,568 birds comprised of 123 species.