Lostwood Christmas bird count a success
Posted 12/29/10 (Wed)
Thursday, December 16th, brought 16 birders with varied backgrounds and birding experience to join the Lostwood Birding and Nature Association (LBNA) for a successful first annual Christmas Bird Count. The group focused on bird species on Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and the immediate vicinity. The center of the count circle is on Highway 50 and follows the highway, one mile north of the Burke/Mountrail county line. It reaches from Highway 8 on the east to four miles west of Powers Lake.
Annual counts, across the country, have been conducted nationwide for the last 110 years by the National Audubon Society. Counts consist of a 15-mile diameter circle which volunteers count once every year during a three week count window. In late December 2009, LBNA conducted a trial count with two overlapping circles to determine the best location for a permanent count.
This year the group counted 18 species of birds and 2,511 individual birds. Highlight species included 1,088 snow buntings, and two northern shrikes. There were 8 black-billed magpies counted, an increase of 6 from last year, and a common crow which was not recorded in 2009.
In 2009 the group counted eight more species of birds but only 84 more individual birds. Because of doing two different circles in 2009, this year’s count was conducted by driving nearly half the number of miles. “The 2009 count was completed nearly two weeks later in the winter,” said Connie Mueller, Wildlife Biologist at Lostwood NWR, “which may have brought more birds south.”
Volunteers met at the Lostwood NWR before dawn and headed out at daybreak to look for birds. Due to the amount of snow on area roads, some roads in the count area could not be accessed. Many area residents have probably seen the small light brown to gray birds with white bellies and black wing tips that feed along the edge of the roads. These snow buntings made up the birds with the highest number of individuals, and are hardy winter residents of the area that migrate south to North Dakota just for the winter.
This year, no one contributed feeder count information, but if you are interested in participating in the second annual count, you are encouraged to start filling the feeder next fall. Anyone living within the zone, especially in or around Powers Lake, is invited to report birds seen in their yards or at feeders that day.
For more information about the new Lostwood Birding and Nature Association count, contact the count organizer/compiler Darrel Rytter at 701-385-3221 or Connie Mueller, Lostwood NWR Biologist, at 701-848-2722 ext. 17.