WILDLIFE IN THE COUNTY— WINTER BIRD COUNT
Why is this important?
Bird populations are indicators of the complexity and general biological health of our local ecosystem. Numerous species are adapted to particular areas and habitats. If an area becomes less suited for a species, the number will decrease; if more suited, numbers will increase. We can assume that species other than birds will also reflect changes in the ecosystem by their rising or falling numbers.
What is the measure?
Audubon Society chapters annually conduct a winter bird count. Teams of birdwatchers select the same date, as near as possible, and survey the same locations to tally the species and numbers. Weather conditions will vary from year to year. But the one-day count is held regardless of weather conditions.
The total bird count reflects both local and regional habitats, and includes both managed species of birds like waterfowl and unmanaged species like songbirds. Birds will migrate either up or down the Sierra slope, and some migrate long distances to other regions of the Western hemisphere.
How are we doing?
The annual count shows a variation of 1,000 to 2,000 each year. This suggests relative stability. The fluctuations may occur because of the winter weather, which can move birds up and down in elevation.