Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is coming up fast! The event runs from December 14, 2013 through January 5, 2014, during which thousands of volunteers across the Americas document winter birds. The collection of data from the volunteers, or citizen scientists, helps scientists understand how bird populations have changed over time. Forty years’ worth of observation data from the CBC show that 58 percent of North American bird species seen in the first few weeks of winter have shifted their ranges north. Sixty species have moved over 100 miles north – the wild turkey has moved a whopping 400 miles!
In 2013, some major weather events impacted the CBC spotting areas in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Hurricane Sandy, which limited access in some areas. Overall, though, Pennsylvania had a record 74 counts with a total of 170 species spotted. Black vultures reached a new high of 2,264 spottings, while Bald Eagles set a record with 443 individuals tallied. Over 25,000 Red-breasted Mergansers were recorded and the Hoary Redpoll made only its third appearance in the PA Christmas Bird Count in Northern Lycoming County. To read more about the results of last year’s Christmas Bird Count, visit http://birds.audubon.org/113th-cbc-new-jerseypennsylvania-regional-summary
Plan on participating in the count? There are a couple of circles taking count near Altoona and State College. Every circle has a leader, so even if you are a beginner birdwatcher, you’ll be able to count birds with an experienced birder and contribute data to the longest-running wildlife census. The sites are named Huntingdon and State College and their contact information can be searched here, http://netapp.audubon.org/CBC/public/search.aspx. Mount Nittany Conservancy Trails could be great places to visit during the count. If your home happens to be within the boundaries of a count circle, you can count the birds that visit your backyard feeder. Upload photos to the Eyes on Central PA Mission on Project Noah. Your photo may be featured on this blog or in Chief Meteorologist Joe Murgo’s next on-air broadcast!