Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Christmas Bird Count 2011

The Four Holes Swamp Christmas Bird Count will be hosted by Audubon South Carolina on Monday, December 19th, 2011!  Have you been wracking your brain for a gift to give nature?  Well, what would be better than joining 112 years of tradition by volunteering in a worthy and enjoyable citizen-science project for the better understanding of birds and their habitats?

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) eating Flowering Dogwood fruit

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society that began 112 years ago as a method for monitoring winter bird populations throughout North America. Each year thousands of volunteers across the United States, Canada and 19 countries in the Western Hemisphere participate in the CBC.

Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)

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. 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 14 to January 5 each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day.

The Four Holes Swamp CBC will encompass most of the Audubon's Francis Beidler Forest, Brosnan Forest, and neighboring lands (see the map). Anyone is welcome to participate in the count as we will organize the groups so that inexperienced observers are always out with CBC veterans. Volunteers will meet at the nature center at 8:00 am to begin and return to the center at 4:30 pm to wrap up the day with some refreshments.

If you are interested in participating in this valuable citizen-science opportunity, please contact Mark Musselman at 843-462-2150. There is a $5/person charge to cover costs associated with compilation and dissemination of the CBC results. You can see previous results here.

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

 Female Eastern Towhee (Piplio erythrophythalmus)
(Although this species is said to forage on the ground, this female was pulling fruit off the Flowering Dogwood.)

Images by Mark Musselman

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