Counting on the Birds!
Throughout the year there are many organized bird counts in our region. The scope ranges from national to regional, and the format from defined protocols to whatever you can count. These surveys are examples of citizen science, a collaboration between scientific researchers and the general public. When you participate, you help provide data that will contribute to further understanding bird populations, their distribution, and any population changes. Two bird counts are held locally: the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for the Corvallis area and the North American Migratory Bird Count (NAMC) which covers Benton County.
Christmas Bird Count
The first Corvallis CBC was held on December 26, 1912. The second count was not held until 1962, and the CBC has been held every year since then. The Corvallis CBC is traditionally held on the Tuesday before Christmas. Everybody is invited – and participation is free. The count is within a 7.5 mile radius circle, centered near the Corvallis airport. It is usually divided into 13 sections, with a team of 3-6 individuals assigned to each section. Team leaders provide additional information about what to bring and where to meet. Home or bird feeder counters are also welcome.
The next Corvallis CBC will be held on Dec. 19, 2023. If vou would like to participate as a counter in one of the sections please contact Bev Clark before the count date.
To download the 2022 Corvallis CBC results, click here. You can also view the results on the National Audubon Society CBC website.
The Corvallis count circle has a 7.5 mile radius centered near the Corvallis airport and is divided into 13 sections, with a team of 3-6 individuals assigned to each section (see map link below). Team leaders for each section will make arrangements with the rest of their group for a meeting place and time (usually between 7:00 and 7:30 AM the morning of the count. Participants should bring cold- and wet-weather gear, binoculars, a scope if you have one, and snacks for the day. A notepad and pencil or electronic recording devices, field guides, camera, and a thermos with something hot are always good ideas as well.
On New Years Day the count’s 50 participants found 119 species. This is close to our 23-year average. Three additional species were found during “count week.” Counts of 63% of the species were higher this year than last despite nearly comparable number of participants and total hours counting. The largest increases (Cackling Goose, Northern Pintail, Mallard, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Dunlin, Black Phoebe, and American Robin) were likely due to more surface water and unfrozen conditions this year, but counts of most songbirds were also higher. All-time high counts were achieved for Ring-necked Duck, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Black Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a few other species. Among the more notable finds were Green Heron (B. & M. Cannon), Sora (J. Jebousek), Swamp Sparrow (D. Bolt), Say’s Phoebe (J & K. Fairchild), Glaucous Gull (J. Geier), and a White-tailed Kite that was found both pre-count and on count day by Susan Kirkbride.
~ Paul Adamus & Joel Geier (Co-Compilers)
Download January 2023 Results
The count circle for the Airlie-Albany CBC includes Corvallis north of Crescent Valley High School, most of Albany, E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area, Luckiamute State Natural Area, Ankeny NWR, the southern outskirts of Monmouth-Independence, and more. If you’d like to participate, especially if you enjoy walking in McDonald-Dunn State Forest, please contact Paul Adamus.
Participating in a birdathon is an excellent way to learn about migratory species, raise funds for environmental projects, add data to a national survey, and have fun. Since 2001, ASC has conducted Birdathons for the benefit of Hesthavn Nature Center. Combined earnings are about $80,000, which has funded a solar composting toilet, museum display cases, new flooring, weather-tight doors and windows, and other projects.
Form a team or go solo on the designated weekend, between April 1 and May 30, which ASC will announce early in the year. This is the peak migration period for birds in the U.S. If you have a conflict in dates, let the coordinator know, and select another weekend during the migration. Ask individuals or organizations to sponsor the team either per species or at a flat rate. Then, bird wherever you are – your backyard, the coast, the mountains, Costa Rica… the sky’s the limit (literally)!
If you own a local business, sponsoring a team or individual could generate good publicity. Or your business could sponsor every team at a certain rate. This encourages more people to participate, knowing they already have their first sponsor. Beyond raising funds for Hesthavn, more people may feel they have a personal stake in Hesthavn’s success and, more broadly, in wildlife and nature conservation.
ASC Birdathon Official Sponsor Form
Contact Birdathon Coordinator
Other Bird Counts
- Project Feeder Watch – Cornell Lab of Ornithology winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders in local areas. Send your count to Project FeederWatch to help scientists track long-term trends. Anyone interested in birds can participate.
- Great Backyard Bird Count – The next count is Feb. 18 – 21, 2022. More than 160,000 people of all ages join the four-day count to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.
- Oregon Black Oystercatcher Project – The goal is to provide new information about Oregon population estimates, nesting success, and human disturbance. The surveys are conducted on the North, Central, and South Coast from May to November.