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Tue., Dec. 10, 2013, 6 a.m.

10 things learned from Christmas Bird Count data

Map shows the 15-mile diameter area for the Spokane Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count.
Map shows the 15-mile diameter area for the Spokane Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count.

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Local Audubon Society chapters have tapped professional biologists to present special pre-Christmas Bird Count programs on identifying and understanding “winter birds:”

Whether you're gearing up for joining a group outing during the Audubon Society's 114th annual Christmas Bird Count or simply brushing up on your bird identification skills, check out one of these free programs:

Coeur d’Alene Audubon will feature Carrie Hugo, BLM wildlife biologist, on Tuesday (Dec. 10), 7 p.m., at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd. in Coeur d’Alene.

Spokane Audubon will feature Gary Blevins, Spokane Falls Community College biology professor on Wednesday (Dec. 11), 7 p.m., at Riverview Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. Driving directions:

The Christmas Bird Count has provided an abundance of data to scientists and researchers. According to the Spokane Auduabon Society, some of the conclusions drawn or supported from the study of CBC data include:
  1. Birds are not climate skeptics, having spoken with their wings. (Many North American species’ winter ranges have moved northward and inland.)
  2. The Bald Eagle is back; the Endangered Species Act works.
  3. Many of America's most familiar and beloved birds are in serious decline, including Evening Grosbeak, Field and Grasshopper Sparrows, Snow Buntings and Ruffed Grouse.
  4. Eurasian Collared-Doves have invaded the US.
  5. Peregrine Falcons are reclaiming territory they had disappeared from in the 1950s-60s.
  6. Sage-grouse are in deep trouble.
  7. More and more hummingbirds are staying in the USA and Canada for winter.
  8. "Eastern" House Finches having been moving west for 60 years.
  9. How fast and how far West Nile virus has spread.
  10. Birds are early indicators of environmental problems that can affect people (see #1).

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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