Saturday, November 17, 2012

Be A Feeder Watcher!

It's easy, it's fun, and it's free. Here's how:

1. First, you have to live in the Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count Circle. If you can't see from the above map (which you can click on for a larger version), go this version of the circle on Google Maps:

2. Sign up in advance so the compiler knows that you're doing it. This year it is Rich Hoyer, birdernaturalist AT me DOT com.

3. Identify and count the birds in your yard whenever convenient throughout the day on December 16, 2012. Just estimate the  maximum total, not a running total. If I see four male Broad-billed Hummingbirds in my yard in the morning, then a female later in the day, I would count that as total of 5, though there may be as many as 10 in the yard during a typical day. If I see a maximum of 15 Lesser Goldfinches in the morning, then six in the afternoon, the total would be 15, as I wouldn't be able to tell if the afternoon birds were the same or different. It's not an exact science or a census of the birds – it's a rough index of what's in the circle with a given amount of observer effort.

4. Estimate how many minutes you spent watching birds in your yard. That's the effort part.

5. Come to the countdown potluck to join in the final species tally for the day. Find out what other birders found while covering their sectors and share your best bird of the day.

6. Then in the following days, the compiler enters all the data to come up with a final official species count, total individual numbers, and writes up a summary to compare it with previous years. This will be emailed to all participants, it will appear in the TAS newsletter, the Vermilion Flycatcher, and the data will go into National Audubon's online database.

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