K-Bay Birders prepare for upcoming Christmas Bird Count

Nov 14, 2019

Bar-Tailed Godwit
Credit Kachamak Bay Shorebird Festival

Homer’s birders are a loosely organized but tightly knit flock. The main charm of birders call themselves the Kachemak Bay Birders. The K-Bay Birders (which formed in 2008) are an informal covey of, as their Chair Carol Harding describes them, “a complete  ad-hoc volunteer organization,” whose  primary organizing feature is the email list they use to communicate about upcoming monthly meetings and field trips and other events.  

One of Homer’s most anticipated birding programs is the annual Homer Christmas Bird Count, which this year takes place on Saturday December 14, that is part of the annual hemisphere-wide National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count.

This year’s Bird Count marks the 120th year of the count, making it the longest running citizen science survey in the world. The count engages tens of thousands of volunteers (over 75,000 participants in 2018) at over 2500 Bird count areas that includes counters from all 50 states and Canadian provinces as well as events in Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies and the Pacific Islands. Last year nearly 60 million birds were counted as part of the Christmas count representing over 2600 species.

The Christmas Count is actually  a week-long “count-week”, during which a bird census is taken, that includes counts made three days before and three days after the “count-day” events that punctuate the worldwide Christmas Bird census.

This year’s December 14 Count day in Homer begins pre-sunrise at 8:30 AM at the Islands and Oceans Visitor Center, and continues all day. This year, as he has for the past 42 years, local birding legend David Erickson is serving as feather-master for this event. Here is Dave describing the Dec 14th Christmas Count Day schedule that begins at the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center

“On the count day, we will start out in the early morning, select teams.  Inexperienced birders will be paired with more experienced birders.  At the end of the day, we’ll get together and tally all our counts.  Then other people will go out in the evening and listen for owls.”

If you’re not physically capable of participating in the outdoor bird counting, you can participate in the Christmas Bird Count by engaging in their “Feeder Watcher” program whereby counters can monitor their birdfeeders and report the various species they recognize and numbers of birds they count throughout the day.

And as a warm-up for the Saturday Dec 14th main event, on Wednesday  December 11, from 6-7 PM at Island Ocean Visitor Center, Dave is offering a prelim. course on ”Winter bird identification” during which he’ll be discussing the various bird species you’re likely to see during the XMAS count.

Here again is XMAS Count leader Dave Erickson sharing some highlight sightings from previous XMAS Count years.

“A rare bird that has come over from Asia, or, several years ago we had a horned puffin.  No one else saw it that particular year.  It’s a very interesting citizen science project.”

So if you are interested in participating in the Christmas count be sure to place Wed Dec 11 on your calendar for Dave’s preliminary course and Sat Dec 14th for the XMAS Bird Count Day event …. and for more info. visit kachemakbaybirders.org.