As part of its annual Christmas Bird Count activity, over 300 people signed up with the Golden Gate Audubon Society to watch and count birds this Christmas, and most of these bird enthusiasts are getting elated by the day as they sight and count rare birds across East Bay and other places in North America.
This has become an annual tradition with the organizers, and this year’s bird watching and counting activity is one of the largest gatherings of its kind in North America, giving bird enthusiasts and ornithologists the pleasure of seeing valuable bird population for personal enjoyment and academic data purposes.
This activity is part of a larger international bird count program organized by the National Audubon Society, and tens of thousands of volunteers throughout North America will be participating in the event over the next one month. About 29 teams of people flocked to Oakland and covered neighboring communities like Alameda, Orinda, Berkeley, and Lafayette among others to watch and count rare bird flocks.
Most of these people are a mixture of bird lovers, naturalists, biologists, and aged retirees among others, and according to 61-year old Oakdale resident, John Harris, “For me, the interest was started when I was in the Boy Scouts. I remember the first time I spotted a scarlet tanager in eastern Wisconsin. I’ll never forget that beautiful bird.”
Another Incline Village, Nevada resident, 75-year old Steve Wiel states that watching and counting birds at vantage points between villages is both for personal pleasure and ornithological objectives. “I fell in love with the birds when I was about 50, on a trip to Costa Rica,” Wiel said. “Look over there, see that beautiful Muscovy duck?”
Few of the bird watchers were able to sight harlequin ducks, Anna’s hummingbird, red-tailed hawks, yellow warbler, black-crowned night heron, and scarlet tanager among others. But it is noted that changes in temperature, atmospheric conditions, and rainfall affect bird habitats and will influence their sightings and populations over this period.
Late last year, the National Audubon Society conducted a research that showed that 588 bird species in North America face survival threats because of incidents of climate change, and it is believed that little to no birds might be left in the next 60 years when climate warming will have taken its toll.