Local birders participate in Christmas Bird Count

SUSAN BOAC

It comes around every year at this time. For 115 years, to be exact!

The Christmas Bird Count, a massive citizen scientist world event, gathers information from designated “circles” for a substantial amount of data on birds. Audubon and other organizations use the data for monitoring bird populations and for conservation action.

Any day between Dec 14 and Jan. 5, teams of birders are assembled and sent out to count every bird possible in a circle with a 15-mile diameter. In our area, the circle centers on the Columbia River/Young’s River Bay covering Warrenton, Astoria and across the Columbia to parts of Pacific County, Wash.

This was my third year of being involved and the best yet. On Dec. 14, the weather was agreeable with mostly sunny skies, unlike the first two years where it rained relentlessly one year and was very foggy the next. It was my pleasure to be teamed up with a great birder, Dennis, from Portland.

We jumped in the car at 7:15 a.m., supplied with binoculars, scopes, books, cameras and warm clothing, the basic equipment for birding. Our mission for the day was to see and count every bird we could along the Columbia River and Young’s River on the Astoria side.

We started at the Astoria sewage ponds (Oh, how we birders love our sewage ponds!), popped “inland” to several backyard feeders and continued along almost to the fairgrounds on Highway 202. We saw our last bird at 4:04 p.m.

Among our great finds of the day were the tropical kingbird at Fultano’s and an orange-crowned warbler at a feeder by the Astoria jail. One of the memorable sightings for me was the “water dance” (flock) of 250 western grebes at the mouth of Young’s River.

Collectively, our group of about 20 birders saw 125 species and over 47,000 individual birds. It was a great day to be a birder.

After spending hours driving her avid birder parents around, Susan has taken up birding as a passion, to the mixed emotions of her husband Scott. The Boacs reside on Neawanna Creek in Seaside where their backyard is a birder’s paradise.

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