© 2022 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Capital Area Audubon Society set to kick off annual Christmas Bird Count

pileated woodpecker
A pileated woodpecker.

Each year around the holiday season, volunteers with the National Audubon Society come together to count birds across the country. 2021 will mark the 122nd year of the project.

Capital Area Audubon Society, the organization’s regional chapter, is hosting its 76th “Christmas Bird Count” this weekend in East Lansing.

The count is dedicated to tallying an area’s birds to give scientists a better picture of different species’ movements, population and health.

Volunteers will gather Saturday at the intersection of Abbott and Lake Lansing Road in East Lansing.

Then they’ll spend anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day, noting each bird they see.

Barbara Hosler is the data compiler for Capital Area Audubon and has spent the past 15 years observing birds in town.

"The count is kind of an added bonus to me of visiting the same area year after year and seeing how things change, anticipation of 'what will I see this year?' And then just the fun of literally trying to keep an accurate count of how many,” Hosler said.

Hosler said one notable trend is an increase in sightings of the pileated woodpecker.

“We did not see those at all on our accounts until 1997. And now ever since 2010, we see them every year, and the numbers have just pretty much kept going up," she said.

Hosler said it’s a good sign this woodpecker can thrive in a semi-urban area.

Other trends Hosler noted include the increase in Canada geese.

"Back in 1971, we recorded 24 Canada geese and last year we had 5,676," she said.

When asked about her favorite memory observing birds over the years, Hosler said it was when she came upon one of the area's smaller falcons.

"I remember seeing an American kestrel sitting on a fence line, right at the end of the day. And I'd given up hope of finding one, and there it was. And there was snow falling. It was just a perfect end to the day."

She said the Christmas Bird Count is important because it not only helps the Audubon Society gather long-term data but also contributes to the overall conservation efforts of Mid-Michigan's birds.

For those interested in participating in the Christmas Bird Count Saturday Dec. 18, visit the Capital Area Audubon home page.

News from WKAR will never be behind a paywall. Ever. We need your help to keep our coverage free for everyone. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. You can support our journalism for as little as $5. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.