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Local Audubon society gathers for annual bird count

Numerous bird houses sit atop the wire fencing
Lisa Young
Numerous bird houses sit atop the wire fencing.

Our region’s local Audubon society recently wrapped a timeless Christmas tradition…bird counting.

Bird counters across the country started the annual tradition on December 14 and have until January 5 to tally their local birds. The Black Canyon Audubon Society, located in Delta, is one of 11 National Audubon Society chapters in Colorado.

The nonprofit focuses on the conservation of natural resources through birding, conservation and educational activities.

Bruce Ackerman, President of the Black Canyon Audubon Society, says the local nonprofit is part of a national tradition going back over 100 years.

"Bird counts are done at Christmas time and in many places around the United States, and some other countries, and they've been a steady force at Christmas time for over 100 years, so they attempt to do them the same way every year in the same place," Ackerman told KVNF.

Volunteers play a crucial role in this citizen science project, systematically counting birds in designated areas each year. Each year, the counters aim for accuracy, despite the uncertainty that accompanies winter weather.

"We do it at the same time each year and we pick a day in advance, but then we never really know if it will rain or snow or be warm or cold," said Ackerman. "So it's always kind of a surprise and we're looking to see all the different kinds of birds we could see. That would include very common ones and it might include very rare ones. So, we really never know what we're going to find."

The practice of bird counting has evolved over the years. Participants used to hunt the birds rather than find and count themToday, volunteers take on designated “count circles,” focusing on specific areas in their regions for more efficient coverage.

In our region, Ackerman likes to look for a few of his personal favorites each year.

"One would be a Merlin, which is a small hawk that we see," said Ackerman. "Sometimes we see turkeys when we go. Near Hotchkiss, there's a kind of a woodpecker called the Lewis’ Woodpecker, named after Lewis and Clark, and it's kind of an unusual looking woodpecker."

For more information on our region’s annual bird count and local Audubon society, visit blackcanyonaudubon.org

Cassie moved to Montrose from Texas in April 2020, right before COVID changed the landscape of the world as we knew it. She brought her love of people and a degree in broadcast journalism to the Western Slope, where she built a strong foundation in local print news. She’s excited to join the KVNF family and grow as a reporter. For Cassie, her job as a journalist is to empower the community through knowledge and information. When she’s not researching and reporting, Cassie loves to spend time with her cat, Jasper, and paint something new.