Bird counts provide a mid-winter 'snapshot'
Allen Schweinsberg and his wife, Joanne, found 22 species of birds Saturday morning on their two-hour walk along Dale's Ridge Trail.
On the second day of the 15th annual Backyard Bird Count in North America, held Friday through Monday, among their findings was a common merganser, common raven and a pileated woodpecker.
They also found common grackle and a red-winged blackbird -- early spring migrants.
"These are blackish birds that tend to begin showing up in February," Schweinsberg said. "They just appeared for the first time today."
They submitted their checklists online.
The bird count is sponsored each year by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Wild Birds Unlimited.
Schweinsberg, of Kelly Township, and vice president of the Seven Mountain Audubon Society, has participated in most of those years. He and his wife also submitted checklists on Friday after a one-hour walk along Buffalo Creek.
"This gives you a mid-winter snapshot of where the birds are in North America," Schweinsberg said, adding the results are never the same each year.
Several times in the past he found long-eared owls -- "an exceptionally rare bird in Pennsylvania," he said.
While more than 40 people participated in last year's Christmas Bird Count, which has been a strong national and local tradition, Schweinsberg said he is not aware of any others in the area who are participating in the Backyard Bird Count.
But, he said, "This is a new tradition, and it's catching on."
On Saturday, he said 17,000 checklists have been submitted. Two of those were his.
The results help scientists better understand birds and their habits, especially migratory patterns and population.
Schweinsberg encourages others to join the movement. Fifteen minutes is all that is required.
The count in 2011, which included Canada and the United States, brought in 92,000 bird checklists identifying 596 species with 11.4 million bird observations. Learn more at www.birdcount.org, where you also enter your results, and also at www.audubon.org, which now features a new online birding guide.
Source: The Daily Item