A Bird Count Update by Pam Wavrin, Director of Ranch Operations
On February 17, the staff at Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts & Agriculture took part in their first Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The count is a collaboration between Cornell University, the National Audubon Society and Birds Canada. It was started in 1998 and went global in 2013. This year 199 countries participated, and 7,437 species were observed, with over 500,000 birds counted.
The United States had the largest number of people turning in lists – 188,830, with 665 species identified. In Columbia, they had 2,269 checklists submitted, and 1,268 different species of birds! There was even participation from Ukraine, with 61 counts submitted, and 79 species identified.
At the Ranch, it was far from an ideal day to be out counting birds. The early morning temperature was 14 degrees and the birds weren’t having any of it. The first few brave souls who ventured out saw no birds, even out in the woods. Our theory is that it was so cold the mice and voles were hunkered in their dens, so the raptors were sleeping in. Later in the day as it warmed up, staff members Rebeckah and Becky and our guest, Helen from the Oregon Desert Trust, spotted a few birds in the woods, including a magpie, so the rest of the staff began heading out and counting.
The international count is held in February for a variety of reasons. The Audubon states that it helps scientists better understand global bird populations before their annual migration begins. In a GBBC webinar they mentioned that there are several other large bird counts throughout the year and the February timeframe helped fill the gap.
“Thanks to Pam for getting our group out into the field for some bird watching,” says staff member Dawn Cooper. “We saw two red-tailed hawks and an owl!”
The following is the PMRCAA Bird List 2023:
- 2 white-breasted nuthatches
- 1 magpie
- 4 flickers
- 1 female hairy woodpecker
- 2 scrub jays
- 3 red-tailed hawks
- Over 25 house finches (the app felt that we may have misidentified the finches)
- Over 15 doves
- 1 white-collared
- brewer’s blackbirds
- Over 30 geese
- red-winged blackbirds x 4
- 4 nuthatches
- 1 owl – species unidentified
Ranch staff are hoping to continue to participate in this annual count. We also plan to do quarterly counts in addition.
Birds are an amazing part of our ecosystem and unfortunately we have seen bird populations diminish in recent years. Many of the projects we are doing here at PMRCAA could attract and support birds. Counts like the GBBC help us track by season over several years so we can track our progress!