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HomeNewsArchivesANYONE'S WELCOME FOR CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT

ANYONE'S WELCOME FOR CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT

Dec. 20, 2001 – Get up early and grab your binoculars on Dec. 29 to join the V.I. Audubon Society's 23rd annual Christmas Bird Count on St. John.
"It's a traditional event. It generates good data for scientists here and at the [national] Audubon Society," Laurel Brannick-Trager, local chapter president, said.
Those wishing to participate must sign up with Wil Henderson, who coordinates team assignments, pairing those with enthusiasm but little or no birding experience with seasoned birders.
"I expect to see a good turnout of both birders and birds," Henderson said.
Brannick-Trager said the island is divided into four sections for the count: the North Shore, the Cruz Bay area, Bordeaux and Coral Bay. A team is assigned to each section.
The teams will assemble between 7 and 7:30 a.m. The day will wrap up around 2 p.m. at Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant, where the bird watchers will gather to have lunch and compare notes.
While last year saw the highest bird count since Hurricane Marilyn swept through in 1995, Brannick-Trager said the number of birds sighted on St. John has declined since the 1970s. "It's probably loss of habitat," she said.
The most obviously missing species are warblers and shore birds. Henderson said that since conditions are about the same now as last year, he expects to have a similar count. However, recent rains that have produced lush foliage conditions could prevent bird counters from spotting all the warblers. "They're very hard to see in trees," he said.
The fact that no major hurricanes have hit St. John since 1995 has helped the bird population increase. The numbers had been rising since Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, but Marilyn dealt the birds another blow.
In 2000, bird counters spotted 60 species and 1,915 individual birds. The year before, the numbers stood at 47 species and 1,242 individual birds.
Early conservationists started the bird count on the mainland 102 years ago as an alternative to the traditional Christmas hunt in which birds were shot. The count has since turned into a significant citizen-based conservation effort led by the National Audubon Society. To sign up for the St. John, count, call Henderson at 693-5915.

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Dec. 20, 2001 - Get up early and grab your binoculars on Dec. 29 to join the V.I. Audubon Society's 23rd annual Christmas Bird Count on St. John.
"It's a traditional event. It generates good data for scientists here and at the [national] Audubon Society," Laurel Brannick-Trager, local chapter president, said.
Those wishing to participate must sign up with Wil Henderson, who coordinates team assignments, pairing those with enthusiasm but little or no birding experience with seasoned birders.
"I expect to see a good turnout of both birders and birds," Henderson said.
Brannick-Trager said the island is divided into four sections for the count: the North Shore, the Cruz Bay area, Bordeaux and Coral Bay. A team is assigned to each section.
The teams will assemble between 7 and 7:30 a.m. The day will wrap up around 2 p.m. at Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant, where the bird watchers will gather to have lunch and compare notes.
While last year saw the highest bird count since Hurricane Marilyn swept through in 1995, Brannick-Trager said the number of birds sighted on St. John has declined since the 1970s. "It's probably loss of habitat," she said.
The most obviously missing species are warblers and shore birds. Henderson said that since conditions are about the same now as last year, he expects to have a similar count. However, recent rains that have produced lush foliage conditions could prevent bird counters from spotting all the warblers. "They're very hard to see in trees," he said.
The fact that no major hurricanes have hit St. John since 1995 has helped the bird population increase. The numbers had been rising since Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, but Marilyn dealt the birds another blow.
In 2000, bird counters spotted 60 species and 1,915 individual birds. The year before, the numbers stood at 47 species and 1,242 individual birds.
Early conservationists started the bird count on the mainland 102 years ago as an alternative to the traditional Christmas hunt in which birds were shot. The count has since turned into a significant citizen-based conservation effort led by the National Audubon Society. To sign up for the St. John, count, call Henderson at 693-5915.