Master bird identifiers Wayne Hoffman and Laimons Osis didn’t linger very long around Christmas Trees and home fires this past Saturday. They, along with tens of thousands of others nationwide, dedicated a day between December 14th to January 5th to identifying as many birds as they could all over the country, and in this case, all over Lincoln County. Teams of bird counters, made up of families, students, birders and scientists, fanned out from Lincoln City to Yachats to ascertain the “State of the Birds,” all part of an effort to see how our avian friends are faring, which includes determining if any specific species are starting to have a hard time due to something disruptive in the environment.
Osis, Hoffman and others covered Upper North Beaver Creek Road, Makai, Ona Beach, Seal Rock, and South Beaver Creek. They frequently pulled off the road, hiked a ways, and took note of what birds they could see with the naked eye, then identified others with high powered spotting scopes and binoculars.
Hoffman and Osis also took turns doing what can only be called amazing; standing quietly and “seeing” with their ears,” listening to bird calls, chortles and screeches emanating from the thicks woods. As each identified a particular bird sound, they called out its name. All were written down along with the names of those they had actually seen; Robins and Red Tail Hawks, ten varieties of ducks, Canadian Geese, Northern Harrier, Coots, Egrets, Black Birds, Steller Jays, Sanderlings and other surf birds, Black Turnstone, Golden Crown Kinglet, Lesso, Peregrin Falcon, Bald Eagles and many, many more.
Hoffman says the idea behind the bird counts is to collect as much bird sighting data as possible, then turn it over to The Audubon Society’s huge data bank. That information, along with additional data from The Breeding Bird Survey, can show population trends among certain birds that might need some tender-loving care in the form of better conservation to better preserve a particular bird’s habitat.
Over the past 114 years of Audubon bird counting there have been many instances where population fluctuations among various species triggered in -depth research into why a particular species is fading and what might be done to reverse the looming threat to not only bird wildlife, but also other animals that feed off them or find themselves in any symbiotic relationship. Bird populations also figure into the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) database in that fluctuating bird populations can also be tied to global climate change.
So if you missed the fun and valuable education from this Winter’s bird count, not to worry. You can sign up for another bird count later in 2013. Just call the Mid Coast Watersheds Council at 541-265-9195 or Dawn Grafe, 541-867-4550.