Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society
Releases CBC 2022 Highlights
By SANDRA BRIGHT
ONEONTA – The Christmas “Side Hunt” was a holiday tradition around the turn of the 20th century, in which people would shoot as many birds as possible. In 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition, to count birds rather than kill them. Twenty-seven participants counted birds in locations around North America that year.
Thus was born the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count, now the longest running citizen science program in the world, spread across more than 20 countries.
The Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society Oneonta CBC was begun in 1969, with the 54th count taking place on December 17. This year, the count seemed doomed from the beginning, with several team leaders having to bow out for other commitments. Substitutes were found, but then a snowstorm hit, continuing into the early hours of the count date, leaving a couple of teams snowbound until the early afternoon. Three more teams and a FeederWatcher dropped out due to illness or other unexpected events.
Fewer effort hours leads to fewer birds, and the 2,168 birds counted were less than half the average of about 4,600.
Only 39 species were found, nine fewer than average and equal to the number found in 2013, another year in which weather conditions wreaked havoc on the count efforts.
Those who did manage to get out in the morning were greeted by stunning scenery accented by occasional sunshine sparkling off new snow. No records were set, but a few less common finds were recorded. The first sighting by Randy and Carol Lynch was a fisher, not to be counted but a thrill, nonetheless. They went on to have good raptor numbers and lots of common ravens, though fewer of the more common birds. Bob Donnelly found two each of screech owls and hooded mergansers, and watched an otter along Schenevus Creek. Dave and Ann Kiehm counted 52 evening grosbeaks at their feeders.
Streams and rivers were open, and, although most still water was frozen, Charlie Scheim and Sandy Bright discovered a great blue heron hunting an inlet of Goodyear Lake, while Pam Peters and Jane Bachman found three belted kingfishers, one at an open swamp. They likely had better luck finding food than the four American robins that were spotted, all puffed out and huddled high in a tree above the snow-covered terrain.
Complete results are available at the DOAS website, https://doas.us/bird-counts/.
Sandra Bright is the Oneonta area Christmas Bird Count coordinator for the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society.