Deck the Halls, it’s nearly Christmas and that means Saturday, December 16, Bitterroot Audubon Society and friends will count all the birds in the 114 square mile Hamilton Christmas Bird Count circle for the 31sttime. We need to uphold tradition by meeting at The Teller Education Building (south of Quast Lane on Chaffin) at 7:30 AM, eating chili and Oreos at noon (thanks to Bill Good), and having a grand time with fellow birders. Just like always the total count will be heavily dependant on favorable weather, but we’ll count no matter what the conditions. We’ll organize into 6 or more groups, each with an experienced leader, and get out into the field shortly after daylight. Participants will have choices of area and routes to count, some involve walking, others mostly driving and looking. At noon we’ll reorganize and try to cover any place missed in the morning.
We annually see over 7,000 birds and about 65 species. In 2006 we saw about 6,900 birds of 74 species and lead the State. Our cumulative species list contains 128 species with 31 species seen every year and 23 only once. The Hamilton Count annually finishes in the top 5 in the state, most often in the top three, competing with Big Fork, Missoula and Stevensville. We need the help of birders of all skill levels to help find and identify all the birds in the 7 1⁄2 mile circle centered on the Hamilton Airport.
Feeder watchers provide essential help. Every year folks who can’t go to the field add several species to our list. You can help by counting the birds at your feeder for the entire day, or for a few hours or minutes when you can take the time during the day.
You all know someone who feeds birds; encourage them to report their findings to Colleen Powell, the feeder watcher coordinator for the 30th time, by calling her at 363-2116. We’ve only had about 20 feeder watchers each year, surely more folks than that feed birds and can identify their beneficiaries.
Please call Colleen at 363-2116 or me at 360-9530 if you know someone who could count birds at their feeder, or if you need more information about the 31st annual Hamilton Christmas Bird Count.