The ‘Great Backyard Bird Count’ is this weekend

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During the Christmas Bird Count, Canyon Lakers Lee and Linda Freeman took pictures in their backyard of a Kestrel and Costas Hummingbird, above, and Turkey Vultures, below.

During the Christmas Bird Count, Canyon Lakers Lee and Linda Freeman took pictures in their backyard of a Kestrel and Costas Hummingbird, above, and Turkey Vultures, at left. Photos by Lee and Linda Freeman.

Registered participants in the Audubon Society’s “Great Backyard Bird Count” will enjoy summer-like weather this weekend as they count birds in and around Canyon Lake and Lake Elsinore. The local bird counts are organized by Julie Szabo of Lake Elsinore, with Canyon Lakers Lee and Linda Freeman participating as often as they’re able.

F1-PIC-3-Turkey-vultures-by-LFParticipants will count as many birds as they can in as many places and on as many days as they like – one day, two days, or all four days – and then submit a separate checklist for each day and location at gbbc.birdcount.org.

According to Linda Freeman, on December 26, 18 participants fanned out over the Elsinore Valley, Canyon Lake and a part of Menifee to conduct the annual Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count. Linda and Lee were among them. Birds they photographed in their backyard included a Kestrel, Turkey Vultures and a Costas Hummingbird.

View of Canadian Geese at the Golf Course by Donna Ritchie.

View of Canadian Geese at the Golf Course by Donna Ritchie.

Linda says the winds were gusting 35 to 65 mph, but Julie Szabo and the team were able to count 121 species and 6,693 birds within a 15-mile radius of Lake Elsinore. She adds, “In Canyon Lake, we saw 415 birds and 34 species but the howling wind kept the birds hunkered down.”

The history of the Christmas Bird Count began on Christmas Day 1900 when ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the then-nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition – a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

Each November, birders interested in participating in the Christmas Count can sign up through the Audubon website; and from December 14 through January 5, they brave snow, wind or rain to take part in the effort. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action.

To learn more about the “Great Backyard Bird Count,” visit gbbc.birdcount.org.

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