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To these birdwatchers, even crows count
Magpies aren’t that exciting for birders, but they were carefully counted Saturday at Bear Creek Regional Park.
Other feathered friends elicited more excitement during the annual Christmas Bird Count..
“This park typically picks up the common stuff,” said Jan Zook, a self-named recovering naturalist who led one team along trails near the nature center.
“Common stuff” included red-tailed hawks, many races of Juncos, goldfinches, Northern Flickers and chickadees. Zook said most of the birds spotted Saturday winter in the area.
Kevin O’Connor, his wife and his daughter were counting birds for the first time. They’ve been birding on their own for a while, and 10-year-old Angelina has been careful track of the birds she spots during hikes.
“I can see us doing this every year,” O’Connor said. “It’s great to get her started on something like this.”
Saturday’s weather was cool, but relatively mild. El Paso County Parks interpretive specialist Ken Pals recalled count days when the temperature plunged below freezing. The only natural obstacle Saturday was the early start time.
“I hate getting up early,” Sophia Bowen, 12, said, “but I always enjoy coming here.”
The event is organized by the National Audubon Society. The count starts nationwide 10 days before Christmas and continues until 10 days after Christmas.
This is the 113th year for the national count. Audubon and other organizations use the census to assess the health of bird populations and guide conservation efforts.
This year about 150 people will be counting birds in the city.
Some are veteran birders, carrying their own binoculars and worn bird identification books. Others may be out for the first time, leading to some off-the-wall bird reports, Pals said.
“We like to involve people and encourage birding,” Pals said. “It’s fun. It’s a way to get outdoors.”
Most wildland areas in the region hold several bird counts each year, including Fountain Creek Regional Park and in Black Forest. Saturday was also the count day at the Lake Pueblo State Park, which traditionally has the most diverse bird count of any area in Colorado.
Pals is the official compiler for the Colorado Springs bird count. Scientists and others will be handling the statistical work.
Most people who attend one bird count come back for others.
“The more a person practices, the better they get,” he said. “Most of the time you under count birds.”
Some people can identify birds by the noise they make. The Towhee has a very nice song, Zook said. That description doesn’t apply to its other signature sound.
“It’s call is kind of like a sick cat,” she said.
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