Valley’s bird count takes place Dec. 28
The eighth annual Sonoma Valley Audubon Christmas Bird Count takes flight on Friday, Dec. 28, from dawn to dusk. It is a part of the 113th Christmas Bird Count in the United States and the largest “citizen science” effort in history.
Every year since its inception, the Sonoma Valley count census has ranked in the top 40 counts in the country, recording an average of 170 species during the 24-hour event. There are more than 1,750 events in the country between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.
Sonoma and Petaluma watersheds are considered unique with a great variety of inland habitats. In total, over the eight years, 995,556 birds were counted in the 15-mile diameter circle centered at Arnold Drive and Orange Avenue.
Owl counting will begin at midnight on Dec. 28. During the day, each of the 35 birding teams, lead by an experienced birder has specific Googled routes and seven years of birding data to assist their effort.
“Because of this exceptional census, experienced birders along with helpful spotters and recorders discover species that may otherwise be overlooked,” said co-founder and official co-compiler, Darren Peterie. The annual event has attracted birders from 37 surrounding cities with a wide range of birding experience. There is space on each team for a non-birder to help as a recorder and spotter.
A potluck dinner and entertainment will follow at the Sonoma Community Center in Andrews Hall at 5 p.m. A fee of $10 will be collected at the door for those unable to donate a covered dish for the dinner celebration. This is a public event geared to adults. Those with all levels of birding experience are welcomed to participate.
This will be the last year that Tom Rusert and Peterie, founders of Sonoma Birding, will be the official volunteer compilers for this count. They established this top ranked Christmas Bird Count for Sonoma Valley with the National Audubon Society in 2004. Prior to this Rusert established a CBC and Audubon Chapter in Highlands, North Carolina in 1996.
To sign up and learn more about the Christmas Bird Count, visit sonomabirding.com. Final sign up date is Wednesday, Dec. 26.
Call 939-8007 for additional information or to volunteer. For the first time in its history, there is no enrollment fee required by National Audubon.