Alaska’s winged winter residents are to be admired. No matter how cold the temperature, no matter how fierce the snowstorm, these tough birds stick it out. They perch on snow-crusted branches, flit amid bird-seed filled feeders. They provide winter amusement for those of us tucked inside, watching from the warmth of our homes.
And there are plenty of birders out there watching them during the annual Christmas Bird Counts in and around Anchorage.
According to National Audubon Society statistics, Anchorage ranked as No. 8 in the country for actual numbers of participants taking part in the Christmas Bird Count. They beat out such larger cities as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego and more.
The Anchorage Audubon Society holds its Christmas Bird Count Dec. 14, with University of Alaska Anchorage for the second year hosting the After-The-Count Party and Tally in the Student Union Cafeteria.
To be involved, first contact the birding leader for your area, which is available for the Audubon Society’s web site (www.anchorageaudubon.org/content/view/35/60/). Or contact Louann Feldmann at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where your particular team will meet. If you have no experience, don’t fret. Leaders will try to match you with veteran birders to make it not only a fun, but also educational, outing.
Be sure to also register for the event, which is required in order for your count to, literally, count, and for you to see results. Registration is free, but must be done at netapp.audubon.org/cbc/public/.
The UAA post-count party begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Student Union cafeteria. Chili, toppings, and cornbread will be provided but participants are asked to bring a dessert or side dish as well.
Another fun option for those with young bird lovers is The Alaska Zoo’s fifth annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 7, at the Zoo. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Zoo and Audubon Alaska have come together for this fun event, geared at youngsters aged 6 and older.
Kids will explore the outdoors with experienced birders to practice their observational skills and to discover how local birds tough out the Alaska winter. There will be bird-related freebies, food and drinks for all, but only a few spots are open. The cost is $3, and the contact to register Stephanie Hartman, 341-6463.
Finally, there is the much-anticipated Eagle River-Chugiak Christmas Bird Count, hosted by the Eagle River Nature Center. This event, set for Jan. 4, 2015, is a bit later than in past years, and allows birders to look and listen for birds out in the field or even watch from their home bird feeders.
Contact coordinator is Liza Sanden (email@example.com) for details. The Nature Center also is offering a few bird-identification programs during December if you want to hone your birding skills. Check this month’s Coast calendar, at the back of the magazine, for details on that.
Since the turn of the 20th century, the Christmas Bird Count has contributed to the knowledge base of wintering birds in North America. This information allows scientists to detect fluctuations and trends of birds over a period of years. The data dates back to 1900, and can be seen at www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/index.html.
For more information:
Dec. 7: Christmas Bird Count for Kids (Alaskazoo.org)
Dec. 14: Anchorage Audubon bird count (www.anchorageaudubon.org/content/view/35/60/)
Jan. 4, 2015: Eagle River Nature Center Bird Count (ernc.org)