Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christmas Bird Count Just Around the Corner

Me, studying my field guide, trying to decipher a sparrow
The 2013 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is just around the corner. The North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club will be sponsoring the Wichita Falls count on Saturday, December 14.

This is the 114th year for this citizen science project, sponsored by the Audubon Society. The CBC is the longest running citizen science project in the world, with over 63,00 participants counting every bird they see in one of 2,300 15-mile diameter circles.

I don't know exactly when the Wichita Falls count circle started, but it has been awhile. The center of the circle is located at FM 369 and Kavorik Rd. Traditionally the club has divided the circle into three parts, with different groups birding each segment. This allows the club to be more thorough in covering the circle. We'll be doing the same this year. Each section has a team captain that organizes the team for his/her area. The captains will decide when/where their team members will meet, what time they'll start the count and the route. They are also responsible for compiling their team's data before the count supper. This year, the captains and their areas are:

  - Wichita Falls: Includes Lucy Park and most of the the city area. Some walking and quite a bit of driving. Team captain is Terry McKee.
  - Lake Wichita: Includes the area of Wichita Falls south of Southwest Parkway to include Lake Wichita, out to Holliday and along many of the country roads. A lot of walking in the Wichita Park and Lake Wichita and a lot of driving as well. Team captain is Penny Miller.
  - Iowa Park: Includes Iowa Park and a lot of countryside nearby. Some walking, but mostly driving. Team captain is Jimmy Hoover.

The Christmas Bird Count is a great event for a new or inexperienced birder. Someone in the group will be familiar with the birds, but they need help with recordkeeping and sighting birds. The pace is fairly leisurely, so there is time to talk about the birds and their identification. You also have a chance to learn some of the best birding spots in the area for return visits on your own. Participants don't have to take part the entire day. You can arrange to meet up with the group at a specific place and time and stop when you need to leave. If you're interested in taking part, you can email me at, and I'll hook you up with one of the team captains.

The teams then converge at the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club count supper to combine the results of the three teams to submit to Audubon. The atmosphere is a little competitive to see which team got the most birds or the "best" bird.  Normally the count supper is the evening of the count. However, this year, some of our members have tickets to the Wichita Falls Symphony concert that same night, so we are moving the count supper to Tuesday night. It will serve as both the count supper and the club Christmas party. You don't have to participate in the count to participate in the count supper. We often have members who can't take part in the count for some reason, but want to hear about what they missed. If you're interested in taking part in the count supper, again email, and I'll give you the address.

Hope you can take part for some or all of the day.

Good birding!


Kathleen Harrington said...

Hi, Penny,

In the spring of 1973, several friends and I started the NTBWC, and we held the first Christmas Bird Count in December of that year. So congratulations--this is your 40th anniversary!

If you want to know more about the club's beginnings, send me a note.

Good birding,
Kathleen Harrington (formerly Zinn)

Penny Miller said...

Hi Kathleen,

Thanks for the information on the Wichita Falls count. I don't know if any of the current members were members 40 years ago--perhaps Jimmy Hoover or Earl Anderson (either of those names ring a bell?) It would be really nice to have a short bit of information we could include in our club newsletter for the current members. If you would like to send something, please email me at

Kathleen Harrington said...

Wow, sorry it took me so long to find this! No, I don't believe I knew either of those folks...I left WF for Louisiana in 1975, so I'm sure there are a lot of long-time members I never met. I'll try to get something for your newsletter to you soon. Thanks!

Penny Miller said...

The important thing is you did find it!

Thanks, Kathleen!