12/06/2012 14:55


The 113th Christmas Bird Count will take place from December 14, 2012 through January 5, 2013. Northwest Illinois Audubon Society (NIAS) is organizing an official count in our area for December 15, 2012. This will be the 37th time that our local Audubon Society will be participating in this large scale effort to officially document bird populations during this season of the year.

            You are invited to be a part of this year’s count – beginning birders are welcome. You can meet the rest of the local bird counters at the Spring Grove Family Restaurant, 1521 S. West Ave. in Freeport at 6:30 AM for a ‘dutch-treat” breakfast during which you will be assigned a territory. If you are a beginning or novice birder, an experienced person will be partnered with you.

            You can participate all day or half a day. The group will meet at the Stephenson County Visitors Center on Route 20 East at 12:00 Noon where they will eat a sack lunch and discuss afternoon plans. Bring binoculars, a sack lunch, and BE SURE TO DRESS FOR THE WEATHER. If you are an “early birder” you can meet a group at STAPLES parking lot at 5:00 AM to go owling before you go to Spring Grove for breakfast!

            Within a 7.5 mile radius of Read Park, Freeport, you can participate as a feeder counter. You can check with Keith Blackmore (815-938-3294) to find out if you are within the circle that can be counted. You will be provided with information about how to count, record, and report.

            If you have any questions or wish to participate in this year’s Christmas Bird Count, including being a feeder counter, please contact Richard Benning (815-865-5279) or Keith Blackmore.

            The first count was held on Christmas Day of 1900 with 27 observers. This year over 63,000 counters will observe from more than 2,200 locations in North America. The data collected allows researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across the continent. When combined with other surveys, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.

            Join the fun and be a scientist for a day. This information and much more at

            The 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will be held February 15-18, 2013. The GBBC is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit the official website at for more information. You can contribute scientific data from your own backyard (watching out the window!) Look for more information in January.


Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer, 12/5/12 (for publication on 12/08/12 in the Journal Standard, Freeport, Illinois) Della can be reached at