On Centre: Penns Valley | Bird count results are in

mcarroll@centredaily.comJanuary 12, 2014 

Eagles and songbirds and woodpeckers, oh my.

Local results from an annual bird count are flying in, and the above are just a few of the feathered creatures found calling Penns Valley their home.

Enthusiasts and experienced bird-watchers took to the fields, woods and streams the week before Christmas as part of the 114th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

The effort gives a snapshot of the birds in a given area and provides vital information for conservationists, according to the Audubon Society.

Birdwatchers staked out circles with a 15-mile radius and counted the number of bird species they could observe in a 24-hour window.

In one watch area in east Madisonburg, volunteers found 1,094 birds from 32 species, including a golden eagle and Eastern bluebirds.

Eleven different species were found in separate areas near Muddy Paws Marsh and on Summer Mountain Road.

Information gained while counting populations and tracking where birds are traveling helps identify environmental issues and is used in the development of strategies to protect the animals and their habitats, according to Audubon officials.

“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.

“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.”

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

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