The National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count is in full swing, with more than 2,500 counts taking place worldwide. Since 1900, bird enthusiasts have been tracking and counting the status of bird species in the St. Louis region and around the world and during the winter holiday season.
This year, the count is taking place on Dec. 14 to Jan. 5. In Missouri, roughly 20 counts are being conducted, including one in St. Charles County.
Randy Korotev is a research professor in the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University. He’s led bird counts in the region for nearly 32 years. On New Year’s Day, he’ll lead another one at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, Missouri.
In recent years, Korotev said, some bird populations like meadowlarks and other grassland birds have dipped in number. However, other birds like vultures and species of gull birds have grown.
“Trumpeter swans didn’t occur at all here when I moved here 40 years ago,” Korotev said. “And you can go up to the river now and see a thousand of them.”
On the day of the count, birders are tasked with documenting all the varieties of bird species they see, as well as taking photos of particular birds that are rare this time of year. Korotev said, they cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
“We pretty intensively try to cover that whole area, because it is just a great magnet for birds of all kinds up there,” Korotev said.
People new to the birding world are encouraged to participate in the count.
“They get a chance to spend some time with some really good birders who know how to identify things and are pretty darn good at counting large numbers of birds,” Korotev said.
The bird count at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary starts at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1.
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