On Centre: Penns Valley | Bird-watchers count area’s avian population

mcarroll@centredaily.comDecember 22, 2013 

There were no turtle doves, colly birds, French hens or swans-a-swimming.

But how about some mourning doves, ravens, wild turkeys and great blue herons-a-wading?

Or even a bald eagle in a pine tree?

The above are just some of the feathered creatures found in the Penns Valley area during an annual Christmas bird count last year.

Enthusiasts and experienced bird-watchers took to the fields, woods and streams again on Wednesday for this year’s installment of the survey.

The event is part of the 114th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, which is taking place across the world from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.

Groups gather in their communities and map out a circle with a 15-mile radius. They then count the number of bird species they observe in a 24-hour window.

According to the Audubon Society website, the bird count is vital for conservationists.

The information helps identify environmental issues for birds, and potentially people, and is used in the development of strategies to protect birds and habitats.

“The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America,” the society said on its website. “When combined with other surveys, such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.”

Locally, the Penns Valley Conservation Association leads the effort.

Last year, they found Eastern bluebirds, belted kingfishers and black vultures, among other species.

“Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission — often before dawn,” Audubon Society officials said.

“Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind or rain to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation.”

The results of Wednesday’s bird count in Penns Valley were not yet available.

Matt Carroll writes about news from the Penns and Brush Valley regions. He can be reached at 231-4631 or mcarroll@centre daily.com.

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