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Annual Christmas Bird Counts set for area National Wildlife Refuges

Des Lacs, Upper Souris, Lostwood and J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuges will participate in the 112th annual Christmas Bird Count by hosting counts centered on each refuge headquarters.

11/30/11 (Wed)

Des Lacs, Upper Souris, Lostwood and J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuges will participate in the 112th annual Christmas Bird Count by hosting counts centered on each refuge headquarters.


The counts, sponsored by the National Audubon Society, will start at 7:30 am at these participating refuge headquarters: Wednesday, December 14th, for Des Lacs and J. Clark Salyer refuges; Thursday, December 15th, for Lostwood Refuge; and Friday, December 16th, for Upper Souris Refuge.


Local counters will be among the more than 45,000 volunteers participating across Canada, the U.S., parts of Central and South America, and Antarctica between December 15, 2011, and January 6, 2012.


Apart from its attraction as a social and sporting event, the annual count reveals interesting and scientifically useful information through the use of citizen science about how various bird species are distributed in winter, and on the overall health of the environment. The Christmas Bird Count at Des Lacs Refuge has a long tradition, dating back to the late 1930s. The count was led for several decades by stellar local bird experts, Bob and Ann Gammell.


In past years, up to several thousand birds of 20-30 different species have been tallied by participants at the Des Lacs count. In 1995, a record 32 species were observed.


A chili dinner will be served at Des Lacs Refuge headquarters at noon for those participating in the count. Note also that birdwatchers staying at home and observing birds at their feeders in Kenmare can contribute such observations for the day. Phone Andy Jewett at 701-385-4046 ext. 223 if you plan to report birds observed at your feeder on the 15th or have any questions about the Des Lacs Refuge Christmas Bird Count.


Lostwood Refuge is the newest count, with this being the second official year. The Lostwood Birding and Nature Association sponsors this event which is the only one to count birds on top of the coteau.


Last year, 18 species and 2,511 individual birds were recorded. With this count you could be the first to ever record a bird of a particular species! Binoculars are available for loan.


If you have specific questions about the Lostwood Refuge count, please contact Lostwood NWR at 701-848-2722. Anyone in Powers Lake who wants to contribute feeder counts is welcome.


Data from Christmas Bird Counts at Upper Souris and J. Clark Refuge date back to 1954, with documents on file of bird count summaries signed by the “Father of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” J. Clark Salyer II. Although there was a break in the counts at Upper Souris Refuge during the 1960s, Minot State University professors Dennis Disrud, Art Haskins, and Gordon Berkey restored the counts, and now Ron Martin has been keeping the tradition alive.


A potluck dinner will be served at noon for those participating in the Upper Souris counts. For questions or more information about the Upper Souris or J. Clark Salyer Refuge Christmas Bird Count, please contact Upper Souris NWR at 701-468-5467 or J. Clark Refuge at 701-768-2834.


Everyone is welcome to participate, as the counts are open to birders of all skill levels. Interested participants should arrive at respective refuge headquarters by 7:30 am on the scheduled days. Typically, new or novice birders team up with more experienced birders to learn some new birds along the way and share in the fun.


The routes are searched by vehicle and on foot (including snowshoes or cross-country skis some years), depending on weather and choice of the participant.


Although the winter has been a negative factor in some years’ counts, we are hopeful the 2011 count will be somewhat warmer! Suggested items to bring include binoculars and a bird field guide, warm clothing and boots, a car or truck with a full tank of gas, and snacks and coffee or hot chocolate for the day.