Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Today was the Christmas Bird Count on the Refuge. Several Staff and volunteers from the local Wasatch Audubon Society joined up to survey the Refuge as part of the 113th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). CBCs have been held around the nation, coordianated by the audubon society, for a long time, and they are a great citizen science project to get people outside and to get a great handle on local bird populations. And not to mention...but they are fun!
Today i had the pleasure of counting thousands of birds on the Refuge, and even though I bird (for both work and fun) a LOT - I can always find or see something new. Today we got to see two female harriers fighting over a recently killed (presumably by one of them) coot. We saw a couple of coyotes eyeing some of the cold birds we were counting. And we even found a few birds that are more rare and exciting for this area at this time of year.
Lots of Bald eagles were seen, as well as several species of owls: Great horned, Short-eared and Barn. There was also a Prairie falcon, lots of horned larks and pipits..and a Thayer's gull. One of the more exciting and uncommon birds seen was a Common Redpoll - first thing on the frigid morning - at our feeder station. These little irruptive finches are being seen all around Utah this year, but some winters you will see none at all.
Along with these highlights - many of the more common birds still gave us a special treat. We got to view two female harriers squabbling over a recently killed (presumably by one of them) coot. We saw some very chilly Tundra swans "skating" on thin ice. And we agonized for several minutes scanning a flock of gulls looking for something different until we all realized they were just all the common ring-billed gulls. We promptly jumped back into our WARM pick-up truck!
There are still many CBCs coming up - running for the first full week of 2013. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, see some amazing birds and make some new friends. If you are interested in participating - contact your local Audubon chapter and get out there and count!
Happy Birding and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!