Christmas bird count tallies avian trends
Every year at Christmas time volunteers from throughout Grand County converge on the US Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District Offices in Granby and prepare for the annual Christmas Bird Count.
The Christmas Bird Count is a data collection process created by the Audubon Society in 1900. The US Forest Service sponsors the local Granby Christmas Bird Count. Christmas Bird Counts are held throughout the Americas during a three-week window from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.
Each year between 30 to 50 volunteers from the Granby area work to tally Grand County’s bird count, according to Doreen Sumerlin, Wildlife Biologist with the US Forest Service. Sumerlin said there are about 15 different routes in the area volunteers follow to count the bird population.
The Sulphur Ranger District Offices functions as the center point for the seven and a half mile radius the birds are counted in which extends as far as Tabernash to the south, Hot Sulphur Springs to the west and Stillwater Campground to the northeast, allowing volunteers to count birds on Lake Granby but not on Shadow Mountain Reservoir.
Routes for the bird count include driving routes within Granby and the surrounding highways and county roads as well as more difficult wilderness routes that require the use of cross country skies or snowshoes. Each year volunteers count between 1,000 and 3,500 individual birds from around 40 different species. The counting starts early in the morning and goes on throughout the day with the volunteers meeting in the late afternoon and early evening for a potluck and to tally each person’s count.
“This is an incredible data set,” said Sumerlin. “Through this the Audubon Society has been able to show changing trends for wintering birds. We [US Forest Service] are happy to sponsor the local bird count but the data goes to the Audubon Society.”
For the 2015-2016 Christmas Bird Count organizers have already secured enough volunteers to conduct the count and are not seeking any additional volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering for next year’s Christmas Bird Count you can contact Doreen Sumerlin at the US Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District Offices in Granby.
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