On Tuesday, January 1, 2008, Joshua Tree National Park will hold its annual Christmas Bird Count, which is held each winter as part of the international Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the National Audubon Society.
Begun in 1967, Joshua Tree’s Christmas Bird Count is now in its 41st year, making it the park’s longest ongoing wildlife survey. Birdwatchers canvas a 15-mile diameter count circle from dawn to dusk in an effort to record each species and individual bird. The resulting count data is used to assess the status of winter bird populations. Last year, 65 species were recorded on the Joshua Tree count.
Interested birdwatchers are invited to participate in this year's count, which will begin at 7:30 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m. Counters can meet at one of two locations: the Indian Cove Ranger Station on Indian Cove Road in west Twentynine Palms, or at the park’s West Entrance Station located five miles south of Highway 62 on Park Boulevard. Count participants need to provide their own transportation and bring warm clothing, binoculars, food, and water. Participants should plan on spending the entire day in the field. Some routes may involve considerable walking or hiking. Prior bird watching experience is desirable, but not required.
The Christmas Bird Count was started in December, 1900 when Frank Chapman implored readers of the journal Bird-Lore to count birds during the Holidays, rather than shoot them, as had been past tradition. Twenty-seven people turned out for Chapman’s first count. Over 100 years later, more than 50,000 participants take part each year in over 2,000 counts held in North America and elsewhere around the world. The Christmas Bird Count is now the largest bird survey ever conducted and the ultimate source of data about winter bird populations.
For more information on Joshua Tree’s Christmas Bird Count, contact Joe Zarki at 760-367-5520, or Cindy VonHalle at 760-367-5521.