The 2016-17 Christmas Bird Count season ended two days ago but for me it was over last Sunday on New Year’s Day. I participated in my fifth count of the season at Southport/Bald Head Island; a day after I helped out on the Wilmington count.
I’m pretty tired and ready for a little break before the Carolina Bird Club’s winter meeting in Nag’s Head at the end of this month. In the meantime I, like other count compilers across the country, will be busy collecting each group’s final list and tally of species and individuals.
There is much more to report on and submit than just birds however. In addition to the birds seen group leaders report the names of participants, hours spent in the field by foot and vehicle; hours at feeders, owling, miles on foot and by vehicle.
It is also the responsibility of each compiler to ensure all reports of unusual species are adequately documented and the documentation is sent to the state editor. This year I will have to write up details on a summer tanager and ruby-throated hummingbird from Charlotte.
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Luckily I have photos of both that will confirm the identification but sometimes a photo is not attainable. A written description must provide details of the sighting, field marks noted, notes on how similar species were eliminated from consideration, optics used, and viewing conditions.
Once all the data is collected it is all entered into the Christmas Bird Count website. All count results will be available on the website in a few months.
In other news, we are obviously in the midst of spell of frigid weather. As is always the case during unusual cold, feeders will be especially active. This is the time when some real rarities will show up. Toss in a threat of some frozen precipitation and the chances go up even higher.
If you have a wintering hummingbird you will have to make sure to keep the feeder from freezing. Remember also to provide water during times when natural water is locked up as ice. Species that normally won’t visit feeders will eagerly seek out fresh water. Cedar waxwing is one species that will flock to water during cold. Try it out and see what happens.
Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com.