A Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be held at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on Saturday, December 20 starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Oak Savanna Learning Center, 16797 289th Ave NW, Zimmerman.
Sherburne NWR Volunteers survey winter bird species within a circle with its center on the refuge (corner of CR 9 and CR 5) and its radius extending 7.5 miles in all directions. Although CBC Coordinator Andy Beim reports that no more volunteers are needed for the count, the refuge could still use your help in another way.
If you live in or near the count area, it would be greatly appreciated if you cleaned and filled your bird feeders a few days before the count. Also please be aware that on the 20th vehicles may be driving past your home with their occupants fixing their binoculars on your property. Please don’t be concerned! The observers are only interest in the species and numbers of birds on your property.
The Christmas Bird Count is a nation-wide activity organized by the National Audubon Society. Reports from all participating groups are tallied by Audubon and other birding organizations such as the Minnesota Ornithological Union. The final tally provides information on the number of bird species inhabiting each corner of the country during that window of time.
The research is also used to track long-term trends in bird populations and distribution.
The first Christmas Bird Count took place in 1900 as an alternative to the tradition of shooting as many birds and other game as possible on Christmas. Since then, counts have spread and now take place from Alaska to Antarctica. Tens of thousands of volunteers participate, making it the largest and longest-running “Citizen
Science” survey in the world. The data have been used to detect declines in populations of many bird species. They have also shown increases in species such as Bald Eagles.
Local data for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is used to track changes in bird populations over time, or can be pooled with other areas to detect population patterns over a large area. Minnesota Ornithological Union has records for the Sherburne count to 1966. The highest count per bird species usually trades off between Black-capped Chickadees and Blue Jays. In the last several years, the Sherburne CBC has found some unusual birds including the Townsends Solitaire and Golden Eagle. Sometimes it is what is not observed that is more unusual. In 2014, no Canada geese were spotted. In 2011, there were 236 geese
recorded. This type of long-term data provides great guidance for Sherburne’s management practices locally and conservation nationally.
The Christmas Bird Count at the Refuge is sponsored by the Friends of Sherburne.