Joshua Tree National Park will hold its annual Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, January 3, 2009. Joshua Tree’s Christmas Bird Count is held each winter as part of the international Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the National Audubon Society.
Birdwatchers will canvas a 15-mile diameter 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.
Begun in 1967, the Joshua Tree Christmas Bird Count is now in its 42nd year, making it the park’s longest ongoing wildlife survey. Last year, 59 species were recorded.
Birdwatchers who would like to participate in the Joshua Tree count should plan to meet at 7:30 a.m. at either the Indian Cove Ranger Station or the West Entrance Station. Count participants will need to provide their own transportaion and should bring warm clothing, binoculars, food, and water. The count will conclude at 5:00 p.m.
Count 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 Audubon Society requires a $5 fee from all participants, payable to the count compiler, for administration of the count (see http://www.audubon.org/Bird/cbc/).
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 the 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 the Joshua Tree Christmas Bird Count, contact Joe Zarki at 760-367-5520, or Cindy VonHalle at 760-367-5521.