Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - December 13, 2013

How to participate in a bird count

Winter offers various opportunities to get involved, even from the backyard

The Christmas Bird Count, and bird counts throughout the winter, are becoming increasingly popular ways to find color in the cold and spare winter landscape. The National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count is perhaps the best known, but there are also other ways to get involved. Even the armchair birder can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count or Project FeederWatch. Here are links to local events:

Christmas Bird Count National Audubon Society event has local bird count in a variety of habitats from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. This year's Palo Alto count is Dec. 16 and is sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, which also has a yearly summer count. www.scvas.org/index.php, 408-252-3747.

County Chase A half-day event on Jan. 4 at 7:30 a.m. to track down some of the unusual birds seen during the Christmas Bird Count in Santa Clara County. Rain cancels the event. Contact Bob Reiling, leader, 408-253-7527.

Great Backyard Bird Count This annual event, from Feb. 14-17, 2014, engages bird watchers of all ages. The count is a joint project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon and Bird Studies Canada. It takes as little as 15 minutes, or birders can count for as long as they want. www.birdsource.org/gbbc.

Project FeederWatch A winter-long survey of birds that visit backyard feeders, nature centers and community areas. FeederWatch participants periodically count the birds they see in their feeders from November through early April. The count is a joint project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. Open to all ages and skill levels. www.feederwatch.org.

Bird organizations:

Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society Founded in 1926, this local chapter of the Audubon Society has more than 3,000 members. It is one of the largest National Audubon Society chapters in California. The society offers seminars, bird hikes, habitat restoration and advocacy. Programs for adults and children. Its Burrowing Owl Protection campaign works with the City of Mountain View to increase the number of owls at Shoreline Park. www.scvas.org, 408-252-3747.

South Bay Birders Unlimited Website of Stanford community birders and others with information about local bird data, bird counts, bird lists, songs, maps and local tides. Links to the Cornell Lab bird cam. www.stanford.edu/~kendric/birds/index.html

Bird-call libraries Recordings of bird calls for listening enjoyment and bird identification. www.xeno-canto.org; www.owlpages.com

— Sue Dremann

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