Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Bird Count...25 Behaviors for Success

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Just finished another Christmas Bird Count (CBC); our "team" established another record species total for our piece of the Circle. Nope, the total is nowhere close to what south Texas or California CBC's get. Doesn't matter, as the greatest conservationist President said: "Do what you can with what you have where you are" (Theodore Roosevelt Autobiography, Chapter IX, page 336). The longer I go at this birding thing (or wildlife-watching in general), the greater pleasure I get from doing it close to home. But, no matter how close to home, you should be prepared not to double-back for something forgotten, misplaced, unstudied, etc. Here are 25 actions to embrace for present and future success:

  1. Keep celebration of key finds short-lived
  2. Resist assumption of identities; remain mindful
  3. Use your ears
  4. Look up frequently
  5. Get everybody on the bird
  6. Find the feeding it thoroughly
  7. Don’t be embarrassed with initial misidentifications; it happens
  8. Insist on securing documentation (audio, written, photographic)
  9. Record notes/sightings/numbers to the best of your ability
  10. Have a smartphone or tablet with loaded “apps”
  11. Birds may not respond vocally to playback, but can approach stealthily
  12. Know your habitat, know the expected bird your homework
  13. Dress warm in layers, snack often
  14. Have a zoom point and shoot at hand for documentation
  15. Know how to digiscope
  16. Cover everything (habitat) once not too fast or slow, then go back for misses
  17. Not all human development is “bad”, think plantings and water features outside of feeders
  18. Have multiple spotting scopes available for waterbodies; the more the better
  19. Be aware of weather forecasts...especially predicted, dramatic changes in wind, temperature...plan accordingly
  20. Have vehicle thoroughly prepped
  21. Peruse Count Area during Count Week
  22. Remain optimistic and intuit strategy
  23. Working hard is the basis for serendipity and the unexpected
  24. Keep looking when other team members are distracted, eating, or whatever
  25. Give your all though you will never find everything; try to relax and have fun

Oh, find something great!!!