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2018/19 Christmas Bird Count

This year will be Audubon’s 119th Christmas Bird Count, and the Cayuga Bird Club's 57th consecutive year of participation! Once again, the Cayuga Bird Club will organize the Ithaca count on their traditional date of January 1 (New Year's Day), which falls on a Tuesday in 2019.  All members of the public are encouraged to participate. We are always hoping to inspire some first-time counters to participate, so please don't hesitate to be in touch if you are interested in learning more. If you would like more information or assistance in choosing a count area or if you are a beginner and are concerned about identifying birds accurately, please get in touch with club president Diane Morton at cayugabirdclub.president@gmail.com. For additional information and history of this event, see the Audubon website: http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.

Within the 15-mile diameter Ithaca count circle, we have nine areas from which to choose, all with their own hotspots. Below is a map of the Ithaca count circle areas. Click on the image to download a printable PDF.





Christmas Bird Count Area Leaders are listed below. If there is an area you are particularly interested in, please get in touch with that leader and they will assign you to a location within the area to survey. Beginners can be paired with more experienced birders — the more eyes and ears, the better. Dress warmly, be sure to have some hot beverages and other provisions with you and get out and enjoy the day. This can be a great start to your own personal 2019 bird list while contributing to this monumental data collection.

You can begin at 12:01 a.m. on January 1 by listening for owls (although around 5 a.m. may be better), or you can head out at dawn (or later, it's up to you) to tally resident songbirds, waterfowl and raptors. You can drive around in the afternoon to look for hawks, and/or you can snuggle in at home and count birds at your feeders. There are many options for participation and your input is invaluable at all levels. We want to thank all of you in advance for your time and contribution.

If you choose to stay home and count birds at your feeders, write down the total time you spend watching, the species you see (or hear), and the maximum number of birds of each species seen at any one time. This is the same protocol as Project Feederwatch. Debbie Mahoney, our club volunteer, will be at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (607-254-2473) between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. to record your totals. And please, call before 6:00 pm! 

Compilation Dinner

At the end of the day, join other Christmas Bird Count (CBC) participants, families and friends in the auditorium of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Johnson Visitor Center, open at 6:00 p.m., for a potluck supper at 6:30 p.m. followed by the compilation of sightings at 7:15 p.m. Bring a dish to share, a beverage and your own table service. The dinner will be held in the lobby of the building; please do not bring food or beverages into the Fuertes auditorium. We are happy to have Paul Anderson serve as our count compiler again this year. Paul will also tell us how this year’s numbers compare with previous years’ counts during the compilation after dinner. 

Last January 1, we found 101 species, a new record for count day! If you’d like to explore what we’ve seen in our count circle in past years, a summary for our area, including 10-year averages for each species, is available here.

Area Leaders

 Number  Leader  Description
 I  Colleen Richards West Dryden, Hile School Road area. Open fields, secondary growth fields, and woodlots. Possible Merlin, White-winged Crossbills, blackbirds, and sparrows.
 II  Bob McGuire Fall Creek area, Mount Pleasant. Woodlands and fields. Good for turkeys, hawks, and herons.
 III  Marie Read Beam Hill, Yellow Barn Road, the northern end of the Jim Schug Trail in Dryden. Pine and spruce forests. Good for winter finches. 
 IV  Phil McNeil Ellis Hollow area, Snyder Hill, Ringwood. Woodlands and fields. Good for hawks, turkeys, bluebirds, sparrows, owls, and finches.
 V  Sandy Podulka Six Mile Creek gorge, Brooktondale area. Our largest area, good birding and hiking. Possible turkey and grouse.
 VI  Asher Hockett Danby area, Finger Lakes Trail, and Buttermilk Falls. Noted for wintering bluebirds and robins.
 VII  Josh Snodgrass West side of Cayuga Lake, Bostwick Road, Mecklenberg Road. Good for waterfowl, including all three species of merganser.
 VIII  Lynn Leopold Cornell campus, Cayuga Heights, and Stewart Park. Good for rare birds, Fish Crows, and gulls.
 IX  Mark Chao East side of Cayuga Lake, Lansing area. Fields, woodlots. Waterfowl and field birds, including Northern Shrike and Short-eared Owl.

More Information on the Audubon Count

Counts are submitted to Audubon, where the data from all of the count circles are compiled. A summary report is published each year and all CBC data is available on the Audubon website: https://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count. We urge you to browse this site to evaluate the importance and scope of this ongoing count. You can see results, view photos, and get more detailed information for all of the count regions. In addition to more than 1900 count circles throughout the United States, counts are conducted in Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. Audubon reported that for the 2017/18 count, “76,987 observers out in the field and watching feeders tallied up 59,242,067 birds representing 2,673 different species and 426 identifiable forms—about one-quarter of the world’s known avifauna”. The data that is gathered through this huge and historic effort is invaluable and we are all fortunate that we get to be a part of this. The database is available for anyone to access--high school students doing a project, newspaper reporters writing about bird population trends, or scientists doing research. 

The Christmas Bird Count is a free program. Audubon does request though, that you consider making a donation in support of their huge task of data compilation and analysis. Go to this link to do so: https://action.audubon.org/donate.

Resources for Count Day