This message marks the launch of our 61st winter bird count. Two questions: Will the winter finch invasion last until count day? And will we have a count January 3? I can’t speak to the first question because we’ve witnessed dramatic irruptive events in October and November only to see the purple finches, evening grosbeaks, crossbills, and redpolls vanish before the big day arrives. There is hope though for some late south-going arrivals such as pine grosbeak, bohemian waxwing, and with crazy luck a boreal chickadee as these three species have crossed the mid-state border.
This is an unprecedented year for the Concord count. Audubon CBC is allowing us to proceed if we observe all national, state, and local pandemic restrictions and guidelines for safe birding—though the count is not totally assured as I write. The Governor’s orders in force count week and count day (January 3) will apply. Check out the Baker Administration’s press release issued November 8. There are further links to a PDF with details and a sign up for COVID-19 alerts.
- Audubon CBC has banned all compilation and social events. SVT— see you in ’22.
- Feeder watching: yes!
- Field parties: individuals and small groups, masks, physical spacing. Large groups of, say, more than five may not make sense this year.
- Car pooling is allowed for household members, families, cohabiting individuals.
- Note the stay-at-home advisory between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Taking a walk and getting exercise, running errands, and so forth as deemed necessary and normal are permitted but group activities and events are banned. If you are a midnight owl prowler go out alone or with a household member, not with a group, and wear a mask. Town coordinators should notify the police of after dark and pre-dawn activities. Post a placard in your car. There is a printable one on this website. Good owl results can occur the few hours before 10 p.m and the hour and a half after 5 a.m. If the stay-at-home advisory becomes an order stick to your yard.
- Town conservation departments and the land trusts may have their own pandemic rules and regulations so check their websites or call. Signs are posted at popular trailheads. The National Wildlife Refuges have new COVID rules in force. (Details are forthcoming.) Town leaders! Please submit a list including all participants planning to access Federal refuge property to the chief compiler before count week. We need names but no personal information.
- No requirement to participate this year (or any year, of course). Feel welcome to stay home and submit a feeder list and effort.
Phew! now that this discouraging topic is covered plan to have fun while keeping safe.
Job Opening at Concord CBC! The Sudbury/North Framingham sector is looking for new leadership. The pay is rotten but there are intangible rewards such as making new friends and meeting great birders and feeder watchers in your community. This is a huge town with a vast number of feeders hanging in back yards and conservation parcels, river edges, ponds, woodlots, and crop fields that have not been surveyed in years.
Many thanks to Bruce Black and spouse Mary Brogan for anchoring and compiling the Sudbury count the last decade. Bruce and Mary are planning a fun retirement shortly after count day, sailing off in a luxury prairie schooner for a year-long North American birding tour, though I am not sure how their ducks are lined up in the present political or disease context. Stay safe, Bruce and Mary, and bring plenty of mosquito repellent as well as a stock of birding-themed PPE.
So begins our 61st winter bird count and may the new year bring peace, good health, and a return to prosperity, as well as some terrific birding.
Many thanks to our sponsor, Sudbury Valley Trustees, for their support and accommodations in years past; we’ve already made a countdown reservation for January 2022. Several SVT properties are censused during the count. Please become a member if you have not joined.
The Christmas Bird Count is owned and operated by National Audubon Society in partnership with Bird Studies Canada, the North American Breeding Bird Survey, and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Veteran field participants remember when they actually had to pay to participate. Joining the the count is free but it still needs your contributions. Please consider a donation to the CBC to support the science and the welfare of our North American birds. Follow the Audubon logo.