Thanksgiving Bird Count
Dr. John G. Hewston
Natural Resources Building
Humboldt State University
Arcata, California 95521
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Dear Birders:

     The annual Thanksgiving Bird Count is coming up again, and I would like to ask for your help in publicizing it. This count is not as well known as the Christmas Count or Breeding Bird Survey. Some years editors have helped by including a write-up in their newsletters, or by publishing the enclosed Field Form. Others did not devote space in newsletters, but duplicated the Form and distributed it at meetings or to a few interested birders. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated. Since a number of counters drop out each year, I must continue to recruit new participants.
     Thanksgiving Bird Counts are to take place on Thanksgiving Day. The counter chooses the time that best fits his/her holiday schedule. The Count lasts for only ONE HOUR, and is made in a count circle only 15 FEET in diameter. The location of the circle is determined by the counter. Actually, the circle can be considered a cylinder, since all birds seen on the ground (or water), in vegetation or flying over or through the circle can be counted. Individual birds are to be counted only once during the hour, even if they continue to pay visits. Flocks should be estimated or counted and just the highest number at any one time used. Count circles are usually located around whatever attracts birds--feeders, baths, cover, etc. Most participants establish a count area visible from a comfortable spot near a window. Some participants select water areas or choose a favorite birding area and make an outdoor count. The same count circles should be used each year.
     This is one bird count which can be done in comfort (indoors) and won't take much time (one hour). Last year 431 counters in the eleven Western States and Alaska made 440 counts. They tallied 161 species of birds (plus a lot of mammals and other things, too). The top five species counted in these states were House Sparrow (1), Dark-eyed Junco (2), House Finch (3), Black-capped Chickadee (4) and European Starling (5). As predicted, the Pine Siskin dropped out of the top five last season, but should be more numerous this year. Participants should send in a report even if no birds were seen during the hour.
     Thanksgiving Bird Counts were begun in 1966 by Dr. Ernest Edwards and the Lynchburg Bird Club in Virginia. Counts slowly spread to the West. When I was asked to take over coordinating and compiling this count in the Western States only a couple of dozen counters were active here. Now, over 400 count reports are received each year, but we'd like to get over the 500 mark. There are still many areas in the West, Alaska and Hawaii in need of more counters and better distribution of counts. That's why I'm asking for your help--again! Thanks.


John G. Hewston 
Count Compiler

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