Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Bird Count Results

It’s like Election Day all over again for the staff at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest. On Monday, Dec. 15th, the staff and volunteers organized the first Four Holes Swamp Christmas Bird Count. With 80% of the “precincts” reporting, the results are almost complete. Nearly 100 species were seen in the newly established circle. The count circle included most of the Francis Beidler Forest as well as Brosnan Forest, Giant Cement, Holcim Cement, LaFarge Cement, and the Oakridge Landfill.

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society that began more than 100 years ago as method of monitoring winter bird populations throughout North America. Last year 59,918 people across the US, Canada and 19 countries in the Western Hemisphere participated in the CBC.

To conduct a count, CBC volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile (24-km) diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. The bird in the image is a Barred Owl (Strix varia) discovered due to the noise and commotion being generated by a mixed flock of upset songbirds.  It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. All individual CBC’s are conducted in the period from December 14th to January 5th each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day.

Since this year was the first attempt for the Four Holes Swamp CBC, it is difficult to draw any conclusions from the results. Highlights from the count included species rarely observed in our area at this time of year such as Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Bonaparte’s Gull, Prairie Warbler, Vesper Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, and Pine Siskin. Blue-headed Vireo (40) and Black-and-white Warbler (8) numbers seemed to be particularly high relative to other count circles in South Carolina. However, participants were surprised by low numbers of Blue Jays (36) and Winter Wrens (0).

Special thanks goes out to the 35 people that participated in this years Four Holes Swamp CBC, including staff at Brosnan Forest, Giant Cement, Holcim Cement, LaFarge Cement, and Oakridge Landfill. If you are interested in participating in the Four Holes Swamp next year please contact Jeff Mollenhauer at or (843) 462-2150.

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season has only just begun and if you missed the Four Holes Swamp CBC, you still have an opportunity to participate in other the CBCs in the Low Country. Please visit or for a complete schedule of Christmas Bird Counts in South Carolina.

Image by Mark Musselman

No comments: