Saturday, December 17, 2016

117th Christmas Bird Count

After yesterday's miserable driving conditions increased the time of my commute by 2 hours, my Audubon chapter has made the decision to postpone our annual Christmas Bird Count slated for today. While the icy roads yesterday caused horrible wrecks, up to 300 in Missouri in one day (not counting all the cars in ditches), today's driving is expected to be influenced by a wintry mix and plummeting temperatures, which could result in even worse conditions. The decision to postpone was not made lightly; this means no chili supper, no camaraderie while we tally the birds we all saw throughout the area, but rescheduling the count to a weekday, possibly Thursday. None of my Audubon friends are fair weather birders, we've birded in snow and ice before with temperatures around 13F and lower, but the road conditions are expected to be horrible and it's not worth risking more wrecks and injuries.

Meanwhile, the squirrels knocked all the seed out of my feeder onto the ground, which is just as well for my white-throated sparrows who love to eat off the floor. I still haven't seen my usual winter resident yellow-bellied sapsucker, but a report came in that one was spotted in the park a block away. The suet feeder is full, so he just needs to come back for it. I have a brown creeper hanging around my cedars this week, which is always a treat to see, the little bundles of energy hopping up the bark and blending in so well it's almost hard to see them sometimes. At some point today before the temperatures drop and the precipitation begins again, I need to make a trip for more seed.

My Audubon chapter is among many chapters in Missouri conducting Christmas Bird Counts; Springfield's Greater Ozarks Audubon Society is a particularly active chapter, too. Read here for an article in the Springfield newspaper about the data we all collect showing trends in winter bird populations in the Ozarks influenced by climate change. With the wind chill in coming days dipping below zero, take the time to fill your feeders, keep the bird baths full of warm water, and enjoy bird watching from the comfort of your home with a bowl of chili and a glass of Missouri Norton in hand.

1 comment:

HiggsBoson said...

Every Christmas on our farm in Madison County, the house would be filled with relatives and talk of old times. No matter how cold it was outside, grandpa would keep us warm with a big fire in the stove. Now they are all gone, and it is just me and my memories.

I miss the Ozarks. Florida is a flat, swampy, uninteresting sandbar, but the temperature will climb into the 70s again today and that is a hard thing to give up.

Your dispatches are as close as I will likely ever get to home, and I look forward to them.