Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count begins


GREENVILLE — From Dec. 14 through Jan. 5 each year, tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas brave snow, wind, or rain, and take part in the effort to count birds. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action.

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, hunters engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt.” They would choose sides and go afield with their guns—whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition—a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of 27 dedicated birders, 25 Christmas Bird Counts were held that day across North America. One was held in Darke County for the first two years. No more Christmas Bird counts were held in Darke County until the Nature Trails Club took up the Greenville circle in the 1960’s. A small group of birding enthusiasts including the Darke County Birders and the Darke Countians for Wildlife have kept it going.

The Greenville Circle count will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 20. This year’s count is sponsored by the Darke County Birders, a focus group of the Friends of the Darke County Parks.

Greenville is the center of a 15 mile circle. The circle is divided into pie-like pieces. A lot of the count is done by car with some walking. They begin by meeting to get assignments between 7:30 and 8 a.m. Less experienced birders will be matched with more experienced birders. They will meet around noon for a lunch, turn in lists and determine where to go in the afternoon, if needed. They would love to have new people help.

If you are in the circle, you can count birds at your home feeders and send your list to the email given. When reporting your feeder birds for the day, please give your address, the number of each species, and the time you spent watching. For meeting place and other information, contact 937-623-0487 or [email protected].

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