Steller’s Eiders bobbing on the water. Ron Knight/flickr
The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count challenges nature-lovers to spot as many bird species as possible within a 15-mile diameter circle and then jot down their notes. At the end of the period, volunteers turn in their results, and their counts go towards a national record from locations all across the United States.
The National Audubon Society, which focuses on conservation and nature oriented activities, organizes the count. Rich MacIntosh is a long-term Audobon board member and says the exercise produces valuable information on the numbers of species in each area and helps determine trends.
“A bird in Kodiak that we’ve seen a real decline in, for example, is a bird called the Steller’s Eiders that used to – in the 70s and 80s and later – it was almost always the most abundant bird that we would see on the count. We’ve seen the numbers go down considerably, and last year we had the smallest number of Steller’s Eiders on the count that we had ever recorded.”
MacIntosh says the Audubon Society originally started the Bird Count to get people out in the middle of winter and think about birds and bird conservation. He also says, last year, Kodiak earned the status as the location in Alaska with the greatest number of species. Volunteers counted 81 different kinds of bird.
MacIntosh says Kodiak has two bird counts, one centered on the city of Kodiak and the other in the Narrow Cape to Kalsin Bay area. The city count is Saturday, and the Narrow Cape-Kalsin Bay count is Sunday, January 3. For more information and to find out how to participate, call MacIntosh at (907) 486 3087.