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Volunteers complete area bird count

Kevin Smith of Hastings spotted this Carolina wren, a new species for the local list, on Dec. 22, 2018, during his seventh Red Wing bird count. Photo by Kevin Smith

Twenty people, divided into nine teams, drove around the Red Wing area on Dec. 22 to watch for birds as part of the annual Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the Audubon Society.

The teams spotted 46 species and a total of 7,372 birds, according to organizer Laura Coble of Red Wing.

"We have two new species of birds for our list, the Carolina wren and the American coot," Coble said. "The Carolina wren would normally have migrated southeast for the winter, and the coot would have been in Florida or other southern states."

Unusual temperatures and lack of snow have affected bird migration, and Coble said, "We saw fewer waterfowl this year, due to little open water, especially in the area at Bay City."

The state is divided into areas called "circles" and the Red Wing circle, which includes Bay City, Wis., was then divided into nine areas so that each team would take one area to avoid more than one team counting the same birds.

The teams used a checklist and tallied the number of birds they saw in each species. At the end of the day, the checklists were turned in to Coble who compiled a total list and submitted that to the state director.

Some of the more frequently spotted birds during the count and their numbers were common goldeneye, 1344; common merganser, 1213; rock pigeon, 306; bluejay, 136; European starling, 1610; American crow, 331; dark-eyed junco, 209; and house sparrow, 508.

"Our volunteers have skills to hear and identify birds quickly, and to check to make sure of identification," Coble said. "The Christmas Bird Counts continue to serve as a good way to check on the bird population, especially for birds that are endangered due to habitat loss."

Steve Gardiner

Steve Gardiner taught high school English and journalism for 38 years in Montana and Wyoming.  He started working at the Republican Eagle in May 2018.  He focuses on features and outdoor stories.  

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