Sunday, April 10, 2011

Counting birds

We are always very happy when we are invited to take part in a bird count in the Monteverde area. It means we go out with people that know the local birds like few others. We see and learn a lot. Although our contributions are small, the more eyes and ears on a bird count the better. Usually groups of three to five people go out together. This is a particularly large number of people to be counting together and they're very excited because they just spotted a Resplendent Quetzal.
In the past week we were lucky enough to be invited to two different counts in the San Luis valley including one at a reserve that is normally closed to the public. The counts were at very different altitudes so the birds we saw in each place were different. This month excitement was high because many migrants are passing through on their way to North America. The ones we saw included Scarlet Tanagers, plentiful Baltimore Orioles, and this female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
    The idea of a count is to record all the individual birds seen or heard. (There's no better way of learning bird sounds than by going out with experts. It's fascinating to know what birds are around even when you can't see them.) Counts are repeated each month or two depending on the design of the study. The data is recorded and is used to watch trends in bird populations—we are having fun while contributing to science.
   Bird counts don't usually result in a lot of good photos because each photo represents a combination of lots of time, patience and luck. But sometimes, Mr. Rududu gets a photo like this one of a Golden-Olive Woodpecker coming out of his nest hole. Sweet.
   The idea of the bird count is to count every bird. On the count at the University of Georgia's Costa Rica Campus and Ecolodge last month we counted this Resplendent Quetzal. Note to avid birders: guests at the Ecolodge can arrange to go on a bird count if they are there when one occurs.
We also counted the exceedingly common Yellow-faced Grassquit that lives in hedgerows and fields. It's common, easy to see, and very cute. It didn't get the attention the Quetzal did, but it did get counted.



Grand Purl Baa said...

awwww. LOOK at those beautiful birds. I feel a tea cosy coming on!

Hey - you of the double sided knitting know how - it was your beautiful scarves that helped lead me to it and now I am addicted.


Evelien said...

This Resplendent Quetzal is truly amazing but the others are just as beautiful. In Holland people count birds every year on one day for an hour nationwide. This year I only counted two great tits. See how lucky you are!

Carolina said...

All I can say is I also want to see a great tit...But we are lucky. Saw a very rare bird this weekend that I will be blogging about soon. (I'm still speechless at the moment.)
Grand Purl Baa, I'm honored to have influenced your great knittingness.

lindsay said...

Carolina- We are always pleased and honored to have you and Mr. Rududu participate in the count! Maybe one of these days I will pry myself off of my office chair and actually get to participate... :)

Carolina said...

Yes! We could probably count more birds if you came...and certainly have more fun.