Annual Christmas Bird Count at Yosemite
Next Yosemite Christmas Bird Count: Dec. 14, 2014 (details below)
Tens of thousands of volunteers across the Americas join together annually during the Christmas Bird Count. The event provides a full day to celebrate birds. Since 1932, Yosemite's participation has contributed more than 95,000 observations to the conservation event.
What better way to start AND end the Yosemite Christmas Bird Count (CBC) than with the soft persistent hoots of a Northern Saw-whet Owl! Under a clear blue sky and a full moon, with chilly temperatures and a blanket of snow, a record number of birders convened in their respective locations in the park to share in the delights of bird watching. Yosemite’s CBC has become a treasured holiday tradition, a reunion with birding friends, and a way to play a small part in a big conservation picture. The CBC in Yosemite has been going strong since 1932, with the cumulative number of annual participants reaching 1,322! For many, the holiday season would not be complete without the CBC.
Probably the biggest highlight was having 63 participants, far exceeding the previous high of 48 participants (2008)! In fact, the total number of participants was not far off from reaching the total number of species (69). With so many eyes and ears alert for birds, it’s not surprising there were some great birding moments and highlights, including 11 raptor species (of which 4 were owls), 2 Western Scrub-Jays above 5,000 ft. elevation, and 355 Golden-crowned Kinglets (including 242 in West Yosemite Valley alone)! The “birds of the day” included a Merlin north of Foresta, a Western Screech-Owl and a Myrtle’s Yellow-rumped Warbler (El Portal), 2 Williamson’s Sapsuckers (Chinquapin and Foresta), and 2 detections of a Northern Saw-whet Owl and a brilliant look at a Pileated Woodpecker (Yosemite Valley).
What a great start to the holiday season! See you at next year’s Yosemite Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, December 14, 2014.
Some of the historic highlights from Yosemite's Christmas Bird Count include:
The next Yosemite Christmas Bird Count is Dec. 14, 2014. To attend the full-day event, bring binoculars, a field guide, lunch, plenty of warm clothes and sturdy shoes. Plan to be outside all day, from around dawn to dusk. An annual compilation potluck dinner closes the day to allow participants to share Yosemite birding highlights. To participate, you must register in advance. Contact the Yosemite Christmas Bird Count Organizer, Sarah Stock, by email or by phone at 209/379-1435.
When bird-watching, experienced birders confidently identify birds by just a glimpse. (See illustrations of Yosemite's most common species.) Remember that a bird’s feathers change as an adult molts into its winter plumage. For many species, a male bird’s winter plumage is dull compared to his colorful plumage in the spring when he is interested in attracting a female with whom to mate. Also, note subtle nuances in a bird’s song or call—long trills or short chips. In the winter, birds rarely sing but make call notes to defend a territory, announce the presence of a predator, or to keep up with a mixed-species foraging flock.
Did You Know?
Built to connect human developments on both sides of the South Fork Merced River, the Wawona Covered Bridge is one of few covered bridges in the region. Built in 1868 by Yosemite’s first guardian, Galen Clark, the Wawona Covered Bridge boasts state significance within transportation, entertainment, and recreation contexts.