Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Bird Count

Today is the Christmas Bird Count for Duluth. My girlfriend is half-sick with the flu, so she's not covering her usual territory this year and is instead doing a feeder count. Before I left for work today she had already gotten, among other things, some white-throated sparrows, juncos, and a cardinal, all of which are somewhat unusual/exciting to see this far north at this time of year. I'm pretty sure she already topped my species for last year's feeder count. Last year's feeder count was sad.

There are a lot of obvious ways to Save The Earth, like recycling, taking public transit, or putting solar panels on your house. Citizen science projects like the CBC tend to not get a lot of press, but they're super important, too. Christmas Bird Counts have been held in North and South America for 108 years now, and this year there are over 50,000 volunteers going out and tromping around or watching feeders and making a census of every single bird they see. It may sound like a little thing, but this provides invaluable information on bird behavior and population trends, which is useful for all sorts of conservation efforts.

I'm not sure if I would have wanted to go out on a hardcore outside count today, since I am working on getting over the flu myself and it is butt-cold (9 above when I left the house). Although it sure was pretty out this morning, too -- steam billowing off the lake, and hoarfrost sparkling on all the trees. But despite the lack of exciting birds during my feeder watch last year, it was still kind of fun (so was going to the compilation afterwards, even if it was all awkward and social, because then I got to hear what everyone else saw, too) and I like the feeling of contributing to capital-S Science. I'm really hoping that I can participate again next year.

No comments: