Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Not cold, nor clouds, snow or unseemly warmth will keep the dedicated annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count from flying in. Yes, for over more than 25 years, dedicated Ney Center personnel and citizen scientists have counted birds within the 7.5 miles of the epicenter, the Ney building. Birders and non-birders alike from west of Henderson as far as Silver Lake, north to the outskirts of Belle Plaine, east to beyond County #5, and south to the LeSueur Airport, (thus encompassing all of Henderson, most of LeSueur.) A map of the designated area comes with the simple paperwork involved. As you read this bulletin, materials are being prepared to disperse to over sixty citizens who engaged in the educational yet simple process in 2022. Let’s add YOUR name to the mailings.

The BIG DAY is Saturday, December 16th. Hardy birders will gather at the Ney Center educational building and grounds, in area marshlands, Minnesota River bottoms, or simply at home, observing their bird feeders from warmth and comfort counting bird activity. Time spent? A half hour to 12 hours, depending upon your availability. (Yes, owls can be vital to the enumeration. Bone up on your owl calls so you may know who is hooting in the dark.). Thus Yule parties can be enjoyed as well as birding activities.

May English sparrows and feral pigeons be counted, along with geese and Trumpeter swans? Absolutely! Recall that black-capped chickadees and junco varieties were winners of ‘most observed birds’ in former years? Perhaps there will be a Bald Eagle or hawk migration the designated day. The more the merrier.

Weather conditions very much determine numbers of birds. On one past occasion, the count was accomplished in shirt sleeves. Another blustery December day, the snow was six inches deep. Not many folks ventured into the slippery hills on that occasion, and those who did, found that crawling UP brush and snow-covered hills is easier said than done. But as an Audubon BC leader states: “Birding is beneficial to humans as they spend quiet time in nature which is good for the human psyche. Birds can lift our spirits in the dead of winter with its days of less sunlight.” In addition, perhaps you’ll spot your first Snow bunting; or see a Gray (Hungarian) partridge on the prairie west of LeSueur/Henderson; maybe the Arctic owls will have dropped out of the tundra; and surely, some participants will learn how to differentiate a Purple finch from a House finch. What an achievement!

Add a feather to your life achievements, join the adventuresome NEY Audubon Christmas Bird Count volunteers. (Need forms for reporting? Contact Liz at 507.357.8580
or Barb at 507.665.2658.)