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Bird Watchers Fan Out for Golden Gate Audubon Society's Annual Christmas Count

Additional teams were stationed today in South San Francisco, Colma, and Sharp Park in Pacifica.

Bird enthusiasts have fanned out across San Francisco and northern San Mateo County Thursday to take part in the Golden Gate Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count.

Bird count organizer and compiler Dan Murphy said this morning that about 125 volunteers in 18 teams had headed out to various spots, counting as many birds and species as possible between sunrise and sunset.

"We have a team downtown, one in Fort Mason, one in the Presidio, one at Lands End," Murphy said. "We have three separate teams at Ocean Beach."

Golden Gate Audubon Society spokeswoman Ilana Debare, who joined teams combing the coast near the Cliff House and in the Presidio, said the clear weather was making it a great day for bird watching.

"We really lucked out," she said. "It's a beautiful day, great visibility."

Additional teams were stationed south of the city in South San Francisco, Colma, and Sharp Park in Pacifica, Murphy said.

The San Francisco-area bird count has taken place since 1983. It is one of 20 that occur in the Bay Area each year and one of more than 2,000 that happen throughout North America between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5, Murphy said.

The results are compiled into a national scientific database that helps promote the conservation of threatened habitats, guide local development projects, monitor the status of threatened bird populations, and detect patterns in weather phenomena, Murphy said.

In 2011, 176 separate species and 60,704 individual birds were tallied in the San Francisco count, Murphy said.

"I think that was a record for us," he said.

The results of today's count will discussed at a dinner at the Presidio tonight.

"The only thing that I would add is that the Christmas Bird Counts have been going for over 100 years," said birder and biologist Alvaro Jaramillo, who leads bird tours around the world. "The start was to dissuade people from the traditional Christmas bird hunt, where people went out to shoot birds throughout the east. Frank Chapman figured that the tradition could be changed to one where people counted birds instead of shot them, and it worked."

Jaramillo adds that right now the Christmas Bird Counts are pretty much the oldest bird monitoring dataset in the world.

"They are volunteer run, and performed by average folks (citizen science) rather than professionals. It’s a unique setup that has worked and keeps on working to track bird populations."

— Bay City News

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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No Audubon Fan December 27, 2012 at 11:51 PM
"The results are compiled into a national scientific database that helps promote the conservation of threatened habitats, guide local development projects, monitor the status of threatened bird populations,..." This has always been most disturbing to those of us who fight for recreational access to the limited number of public beaches and parks in this densely populated urban area. Audubon's wildlife protection policy has always been quite clear and unbending: "Keep all humans and their pets out of any open space areas where wildlife is present. Period. No exceptions." The problem is that Audubon's wildlife stats/counts are always biased, self-serving and totally unscientific. For example, witnesses have observed Audubon volunteers skewing their reports by counting non endangered/threatened sanderlings as threatened Western Snowy Plovers. This has had the effect of giving the recipient of the Audubon report a false impression as to the true presence of the WSP at SF's Ocean Beach and Crissy Field. The GGNRA/NPS, as one of those recipients, has utilized the Audubon findings to justify the closing of significant porttions of OB and CF to the public in the name of WSP conservation. This, in spite of the fact that neither OB nor CF are listed as "critical habitat" for the WSP by the U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. This is all SO wrong on SO many levels.

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