Over 100 Years Of Bird Counting

Dec 28, 2017

Black-capped chickadee
Credit jber.jb.mil

The 118th Annual Christmas Bird Count, organized by the Audubon Society, is in full swing. The event dates back to Christmas Day 1900 and has been held in Cache Valley since 1955. 

Bird enthusiasts of all levels join in the Christmas Count, which has become a tradition for many across the state. The data collected every year goes to monitoring bird populations, as well as tracking long-term changes in climate.

This year, the count took place on December 16 and participants in Cache Valley counted more than 90 species, totaling more than 61,000 birds.

“For the valley there’s actually an entire week’s window that you can tally birds in, but the actual Christmas Bird Count is one day for our area. And it’s a 30 mile diameter circle that it’s spaced around, so a 15 mile radius around a point in Smithfield” said Makenna Johnson, board member for the Bridgerland Audubon Society. “So it’s within that circle that we have different sectors. In order to compile the data, we go out all day and we had someone from each sector telling me how many of each species they saw.”

Johnson, who is also a senior in biology at Utah State University, says the count benefits many aspects of local wildlife populations including research and management efforts.

 “When we were compiling data, it was really neat to see a comparison of the influx of species, particularly invasive species like Eurasian Collared-Dove and European Starling and I think that that alone opens everyone’s eyes to how many species there are in the valley and how their populations are doing,” Johnson said.    

Johnson encourages others to take part in citizen science events like the Christmas Bird Count. 

“Any data is data and anybody’s help can make a difference” she said. 

There are still opportunities to be part of the Christmas Count in Utah, which continues through January 5th. 

Check out utahbirds.org for more details on count schedules and past reports. You might also consider being a part of the Great Backyard Bird Count happening this February 16th.