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Published: 12/12/2002

103rd bird count to look at effects of disease

The 103rd annual Christmas Bird Count season gets under way Saturday with the first of some 1,900 groups heading afield in much of the Western Hemisphere in a “citizen-scientist” effort to assay the status of bird species.

The count, founded in 1900 and annually sponsored by the National Audubon Society, is expected to attract some 55,000 bird watchers across all of the United States and Canada, parts of Central America and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and some Pacific islands.

The goal is to count and record every bird and bird species seen during a 24-hour calendar day within a count circle 15 miles in diameter, or 177 square miles. Count groups may pick any day between Dec. 14 and Jan 5.

Of special interest this year are bird families affected by West Nile virus, especially the Corvids (crows, ravens, magpies, and jays), and owls, eagles, and other raptors or birds of prey.

“This year, West Nile virus seems to have had a larger impact on U.S. bird populations than in years past,” said Frank Gill, Audubon’s senior vice president for science. “While we hope to use CBC data to learn if there are regional declines in crows, jays, owls, and raptors, it is crucial that organizers and participants conduct their counts as usual. That way their results from this year will be entirely comparable to those of the past century’s seasons.”

The CBC is an important tool in assessing the winter distribution of birds species in the Western Hemisphere. Bird Studies Canada continues as a partner in the Audubon counts. In 2001 a record 1,936 counts were compiled, tallying a total of 52 million birds. Other details are available at the following Web site: www.audubon.org, or at BirdSource, a cooperative with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology at www.birdsource.org.

At least four counts are scheduled in northwest Ohio by Jan. 5. They Include:

  • Saturday, Black Swamp Audubon Chapter, beginning 7 a.m. at Goll Woods State Nature Preserve near Archbold in Fulton County with an owl count. The chapter serves Williams, Defiance, Paulding, Putnam, and Henry counties. The contact is Jon Diller, 419-899-4409.

  • Sunday, 70th annual Toledo Area count, led by the Toledo Naturalists’ Association, beginning at 8 a.m. at six locations.

    A count breakfast is set for 6:30 a.m. at Denny’s Restaurant, Buck Road and I-75. A countdown is set for 5:15 p.m. at the Spaghetti Warehouse downtown. Contact Matt Anderson, compiler, for details, 419-877-9202.

    The six TNA sub-counts, meeting places, and leaders include:

    Upper Maumee River to downtown Toledo, leader Chuck Anderson, 419-823-7822.

    Woodlawn Cemetery/Ottawa Park/Bayshore Power Plant, leader Matt Anderson, meet at Central Avenue entrance to the cemetery at 7:45 a.m.

    Pearson Metropark and Mallard Club State Wildlife Area, leader Joe Komorowski, 734-529-3356. Meet at Pearson’s main shelterhouse.

    Point Place/North Toledo, leader Steve Stockford, 517-424-1751, meet at Cullen Park on Summit Street.

    Bayshore Road/Maumee Bay State Park, leaders Eric Durbin, 419-866-1873, and Greg Links, 734-850-8639. Meet at public fishing access area on Bayshore just east of the power plant.

    Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge, leader Tom Kemp, 419-877-9635. Call Kemp for meeting place.

    Watchers at backyard bird-feeding stations within the count area should call Matt Anderson with results by Dec. 29.

    In 2001 the TNA count tallied 88 species, just shy of its all time record of 90 species set in 1983. The TNA count has averaged 74 species and some 27,000 birds in its long run.

  • Dec. 29, Grand Rapids/Waterville count, 7 a.m., covering the Maumee River from Grand Rapids to Side Cut Metropark, plus Swan Creek Valley, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark, and Maumee State Forest. Call Tom Kemp, compiler, for details. Meet for breakfast at Caf Chickaroo in Whitehouse.

  • Jan. 5, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge count, 8 a.m., including ONWR, Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, Metzger Marsh State Wildlife Area, and adjacent lakeshore areas. Call compiler Tom Bartlett, 419-447-0005. Meet at refuge headquarters.

  • The Toledo Naturalists’ Association has honored renowned ornithologist Harold Mayfield, a longtime TNA member, with a lifetime achievement award.

    Mayfield is known for authoritative works of the Kirtland’s warbler and red phalarope, the “Mayfield Method” of estimating bird nesting-success. He has authored more than 100 scientific papers on birds and natural history, and is well-known throughout ornithological circles.

  • A coyote was spied near downtown yesterday by Toledoan Eric Prond, who was on his way to work.

    “I thought it was a dog a first,” said Prond, who has seen many coyotes on rural farms. The animal was silver-gray, with a full “bottle-brush” tail. “It was in really good condition.

    Prond saw it as he swung off I-280 onto the Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway at Bush Street. Coyotes are found in all 88 counties of Ohio and increasingly in urban and suburban areas, where they find easy sources of food, prey, and shelter.

    DATEBOOK

    Today and tomorrow - Public trap and skeet shooting, 6 to 11 p.m., United Conservation and Outdoor Association of Hancock County, Township Road 243 north of U.S. 224, east of Findlay, call Don Borkosky, 419-427-4236.

    Tomorrow and Monday - Public trapshoot, 5:30 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen’s Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; voice-activated traps now available; call Frank Schaffer, 419-691-2769.

    Tomorrow - Naturalists’ Camera Club of Toledo, 7:30 p.m., Secor Metropark Nature Discovery Center, Central Avenue entrance, program on “It begins with ‘F’;” call Adele Shelton, 419-474-2911.

    Saturday and Sunday - Maumee Valley Gun Collectors’ show, Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Woodland Exhibit Center, Woodland Mall, State Rt. 25 north edge of Bowling Green; call MVGCA, 419-893-1110.

    Sunday - Auto tour and open house, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, 14000 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor; seven-mile route within refuge; call the refuge, 419-898-0014.

    Sunday - Toledo Area Christmas bird count, 8 a.m., Toledo Naturalists’ Association, call Matt Anderson, compiler, 419-877-9202.

    Sunday - Bowshoot, Maybee Sportsmen’s Club, 11490 Hoffman Rd., Maybee, Mich., register 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 30 3-D targets, call Kevin Addy, 734-529-3384.



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