A Bird Count Just for Kids
|At Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah, 10 children and their parents take part in Binocular Boot Camp, a prelude to the refuge’s first Christmas Bird Count for Kids in December 2010.|
|Credit: Chris Jordan|
|In North Dakota, two Kensal Public School students brave sub-zero temperatures to take part in the 2009 Christmas Bird Count at Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge. Ten year after the refuge began the count with Kensai students, a national Christmas Bird Count for Kids is taking off on many refuges.|
More kids are getting in on the Christmas Bird Count, a wildlife survey and citizen-science project that takes place worldwide and on many national wildlife refuges in January. Some refuges are reporting success with a new offshoot of the traditional National Audubon event — the Christmas/Winter Bird Count for Kids, aimed at youngsters, age 8 to 18. The kids' program runs through January 16.
At Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah, 10 kids and their parents participated in the refuge's first such event in December, counting more than 260 birds of 26 different species. Participants began by learning birding basics in a Binocular Boot Camp. They moved on to spot an adult bald eagle, Northern harriers, rough-legged hawks, horned larks and snow buntings. Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland welcomed kids to a similar event the next week. Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma and John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Pennsylvania are planning kids' bird counts on January 8.
In North Dakota, Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge Complex has a 10-year jump start on the national kids' program. It has been conducting the Christmas Bird Count with Kensal Public School students since 2000. The effort began as a project with the fifth and sixth grade class and soon included the high school science class. Now it includes students from the fifth through twelfth grade.
Refuges share data they collect with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Bird data collected on refuges and elsewhere further bird and habitat conservation by helping scientists track population dynamics and examine effects of climate change.