For the past twenty years, the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) has contributed data to the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a national bird census tracking the status of bird populations across North America now in its 118th year.
From December 14 through January 5, volunteers across the country brave the elements to count local birds for one day within a designated 15-mile circle. All data is then reported back to the Audubon Society.
According to LGLC Communications and Outreach manager Sarah Hoffman, everyone is welcome to participate. There are regular contributors each year to the LGLC Bird Count so anyone needing to be paired with an expert, just needs to phone the LGLC office at (518) 644-9673 or email Hoffman directly. Pre-registration is required.
“If people are interested in joining the count, they can call the office or email me. There are experts that love to share their knowledge with other people. Anyone can step in and see what it’s all about,” says Hoffman. “The idea that our little circle being part of a national effort is exciting. People can go out and see what they can see and know they are contributing to a larger project. The Audubon Society publishes the report online and anyone can look and see what the results are for each participating group.”
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) began on Christmas 1900 by ornithologist Frank Chapman to forego the previous tradition of a holiday “side hunt” for a bird census. The side hunt focused on hunters choosing sides, going out into the field, and bringing back as many birds and small quarry. The side with the largest quantity “won.” As a member of the growing Audubon Society, Chapman, other scientists, and concerned citizens were aware of the decrease in the bird population. This movement has grown from the original 25 bird counts to thousands of bird counts across the country.
The LGLC Bird Count is being held this Saturday, December 16. Each 15-mile radius is further divided into sectors with a start time determined by the individual compiler. The LGLC count includes the southern basin of Lake George, including Bolton, Diamond Point, Cleverdale, the east shore from Pilot Knob to Black Mountain, parts of Warrensburg, and the Tongue Mountain range. At 4 pm that same day, all CBC participants join Hoffman at the LGLC office in Bolton Landing for hot beverages and to report their yearly findings.
“We’ve seen bald eagles and peregrine falcons over the past few years,” explains Hoffman. “The weather has a lot to do with it. Some years the water is open and we see more ducks and water fowl. Other years the lakes are frozen over. We’ve been part of this study since 1991 and can now track our own trends.”
Photo of chickadee during Christmas Bird Count used with the permission of Diane Chase, AdirondackFamilyTime.com