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Where are all the Birds???

Over the past month or so, we have heard from many people asking about a noticeable decline in birds coming to their feeders. Where are all the birds???

There are many factors in play, but it is quite normal to notice a drop in feeder activity at this time of year (late summer through early fall), when there is an abundance of wild seeds and berries. This year in particular has been quite extraordinary in terms of the natural food available.

In the words of Pennsylvania naturalist Scott Weidensaul,

Keep in mind that we’ve just experienced one of the mildest Octobers (following one of the hottest Septembers) on record, both following one of the wettest summers in years. The abundance of natural food this year is truly extraordinary; there’s widespread and heavy acorn crops, a ton of cones of most of the conifers, lots of forb and grass seeds in the meadows and fields, and heavy berry and fruit crops. For example, in some woodlands here in Schuylkill County I’ve seen the ground almost carpeted with the dark blue (and highly nutritious) fruits of black gum, which are usually eaten almost before they hit the ground by catbirds, thrushes and other migrants.

Also, folks overlook the fact that while they may have the same species at their feeders year-round, it’s often not the same individual birds from season to season. I’ve heard from a number of people specifically that their goldfinches have disappeared. I know from banding over the years at my home that we have several seasonal changing of the guards of goldfinch populations, and that the individuals that are here during the summer are replaced by a different cohort in the winter. Given how mild it is, and how significantly the weather has impacted migration this fall, I’m not really surprised that while the summer resident goldfinches have moved out, the wintering birds haven’t shown up yet.

I suspect once it gets cold, and especially if we get some snow cover, we’ll have normal numbers. But even in the worst winter conditions, research has shown birds only get an average of about 10 percent of their diet from feeders, and this year the real smorgasbord is out in the wild.

Annual Litter Pick-Up, April 15th

Volunteers Needed: Free breakfast included!

On Saturday, April 15th, volunteers are needed to help pick up litter along a two mile stretch of Rt. 191 just north of Lake Ariel. It will start at 9am and ends around 10:30am, followed by a breakfast served at the Lake Ariel home of Audubon board members.

PennDOT provides the Audubon team with gloves, safety vests, and trash bags. To volunteer, contact Audubon by e-mail at audubonworks@gmail.com or call 570-253-9250 by April 6th.

“The more volunteers we get, the sooner we can finish the job,” says coordinator, Katharine Dodge, “and the sooner we can enjoy the breakfast!” Dodge recently took over the coordinator job from former board member Marge Brion who oversaw the program for many years.

AUDUBON ANNOUNCES 117th ANNUAL CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT – A DAY OF NATURE AND ADVENTURE

Winter Cardinal

Northeast PA Audubon Society is asking for volunteers to join the 117th Annual International Christmas Bird Count on Saturday December 17, 2016. Volunteer birders will travel the area beginning at dawn and ending when the last volunteer is finished! This is a wonderful way to take note of the many birds that are here at this time of year. You might get a chance to see late migrating birds if the weather permits. The count was established in 1900, as an alternative to the year end “side hunt”, when hunters would take to the fields to shoot as many birds as possible before sitting down to Christmas Dinner!

Today’s Audubon Christmas Bird Count mobilizes over 70,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,300 locations across the Western Hemisphere. The CBC utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that professional scientists could never accomplish alone. Because birds are an early indicator of environmental threats to habitats, tracking and recording changes in their location are valuable to the understanding of weather patterns and consequently, the changing climate and its affect on our world.

White Mills is the center of the count circle which was established over 25 years ago. During that time volunteers have counted as many as 45 species including waterfowl and wintering hawks. We have seen an increase in Bald Eagles in the area and the occasional Common Loon. Counters travel by car and on foot within designated areas of the 15 mile wide circle.

If you are interested, call Barbara at (570) 253-2364. You don’t have to be an expert birder because we will partner you with those more experienced volunteers. You can also count from your window feeder. If you love nature, birds and adventure this day is made for you!

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