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Is that a partridge in a pear tree? The Audubon bird counter knows
When: Saturday, times vary
Where: Locations vary
Admission: Free; contact Ken Pals firstname.lastname@example.org or 471-0687
Singing about two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" is a Christmas tradition that dates back a few centuries.
The Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count doesn’t go back quite that far, but it does date back to about 1900, says to Ken Pals, the compiler for the Colorado Springs Christmas bird count and part-time interpretive specialist with El Paso County Parks.
The Aiken Audubon Society’s bird count, which is part of a national effort, takes place on Saturday and relies on volunteers, who tally the different species of birds and number of birds they spot in assigned areas.
The data collected in the Christmas bird count will enable researchers to track temperature change and the range of birds, some of which are travelling farther north than 30-40 years ago. Scientists can use these numbers, which are collected across the country Friday through Jan. 5, to track the increase or decline of birds and species.
According to information published by the Audubon Society, we know more hummingbirds are staying in the United States and Canada for the winter. They can track how fast and how far the West Nile virus has spread.
Last year 150 people participated locally. Pals anticipates that counters will see as many as 90-100 species on the count day.
Tracking birds may seem akin to herding cats -- a bit chaotic and lacking precision, but Pals says that while there might be some overcount, the results are generally pretty accurate. Formulas are also used to compile the data.
The count has grown to more than 2,200 bird-counting circles across the country. Each circle is 15 miles across. The center of the local circle is at Southgate Road near Cedar Springs.
“We assign groups to bird areas,” Pals explains. “Each has a leader. Some of the people have done many years in succession with the same leader.”
Bird enthusiasts will appreciate some of the sights from previous counts. Pals says a band-tailed pigeon was spotted, which is unusual because it’s more often a summer resident. And a long-tailed duck was seen, which Pals says is aalso a rarity for Colorado.
What’s common in Colorado Springs? Canadian geese, mallard ducks, wild turkeys and a variety of jays -- to name a few. Although 100 species might sound like a lot, Pals says that due to our lack of water, we don’t see as many as Pueblo or Boulder, whose counters might spot up to 120 species.