Have you reached a point in your life where it would probably take an emergency to get you to leave your comfortably, warm home to traipse about in the snowy outdoors? Well, there is an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations, when families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and
check lists go on an unusual mission, oftentimes starting before dawn. Its the National Audubon Society’s Bird Hunt and it begins in December and continues until New Year’s.
The point of a Bird Count is to create a sort of bird census. This data is sent to the Audubon Society and is also shared with scientists when they gather information to track migration patterns. One participant, a banker, named Roger, has been doing this for thirty years and he left his home expecting to see many crows, starlings and rock pigeons. They are the birds that I am not very delighted to see at my bird feeder, especially the starlings that come in large groups and consume much feed. Roger, however finds migration one of the greatest things in all of nature. Some birders come home feeling depressed at the drop in numbers of some birds, especially water fowl.
To give you an idea of the participation in the bird hunts, which by the way, has been held since the beginning of the 20th century, a search group of 75 hunters booked 108 species. You may wonder if this event is worth the effort until you realize that more
than 63,000 hunters participated across North and South America. It is now in its 113th year. The Audubon Society calls it the longest running citizen science project in the world. Hunters are told to search for fifteen minutes, but many look longer than that. Some hold hands while foraging through tall grasses in search of their “fine, feathered friends.”
My interest perked as I came across information on the Evening Grosbeak. My feeders were only invaded by them once and I haven’t seen them since. From what I read, the
Grosbeak may not be less in number, but rather just settled in other parts of the U.S. I’ll never forget their invasion as they flew in squadron-like formation, chatting with each other, and gobbling down much seed, with their chunky parrot-like beaks. Actually, it was more seed than I’d seen consumed, ever before, in a such short time.
I can understand why people would participate in this bird count, but why in the winter time? Then I remembered that it isn’t wintery weather everywhere. In Florida, I enjoy
early morning walks and look forward to hearing the birds sing at the coming of the light of morning. You may want to join in the count and become a part of the groups of people everywhere searching their back yards and nearby fields while counting the birds they see.
Checking for migration of birds seems to be the main reason for holding these counts. I love feeding birds and drawing them to my yard, but their care is undertaken by God. In fact, in Matthew 6:26, Jesus warns us to be more like them. He says, “Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” Jesus doesn’t stop there. He says we are much more valuable than they. Worrying, sowing, reaping and storing just may reduce our ability to trust in God. What’s your opinion on this? I hope you’ll write and leave your thoughts on the subjects of birds, God and you.