FCAS Presents

JJ Audubon

"I ate no butcher's meat, lived chiefly on fruits, vegetables, and fish, and never drank a glass of spirits or wine until my wedding day. To this I attribute my continual good health, endurance, and an iron constitution."

J. J. Audubon, engraved by H. B. Hall, based on a painting by Henry Inman. Engraving from The Life of John James Audubon, the Naturalist, edited by his widow. New York: G. P. Putnams' Sons, 1894.

"Christmas Bird Count"

Fort Collins: Saturday, Dec. 19th, and
Loveland: Friday, January 1st

CBC participants by Audubon.org

December and the holidays are here. This year, share some holiday spirit with the birds by participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count and by decorating a tree with edible ornaments.

More than a century ago, Audubon pioneered citizen science with the first Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Today, the bird count is the longest-running wildlife census in the world. It informs and directs conservation efforts by providing much-needed data about bird populations and trends. Additionally, the data compiled is an indicator about ecosystems in general.

Fort Collins’ CBC will be conducted on Dec. 19. For information contact Tom Hall, compiler, at redbear44@msn.com. There will be a compilation dinner afterward that will begin around 5 p.m. at the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (formerly Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory), 230 Cherry Street #150. Pizza will be provided and donations are encouraged.

The Loveland CBC will be on Jan. 1. Contact Nick Komar, quetzal65@comcast.net, to participate or learn more. Advanced birding skills are not required for either CBC; beginners can be paired with more experienced birders. If you live within a count circle and just want to record what comes to your backyard feeders, you are welcome to participate and should contact one of the CBC coordinators for details.

Whether you participate in the CBC or not, there’s another great way to share the holiday spirit with the birds—decorate an outside tree with edible ornaments.The custom of decorating a birds’ Christmas tree dates back to the sixteenth century in northern Europe.

Although birds are not picky about the tree you choose to decorate, a conifer will offer the birds shelter and keep the ornaments more protected from snow and wind. For the best viewing experience, choose a tree near your house and close to a window so you can watch the birds as they come to the tree for the treats.

There are a variety of foods you can offer that will be appreciated by winter birds. Some of the more popular treats include pine cone feeders and donut wreaths covered with suet and birdseed, or peanut butter and birdseed. Small suet balls/cakes or small mesh bags of suet also are enjoyed. Make garlands of fruit using apple, pear, and raisins, or string together popcorn and cranberries. Hang apples from a bough. Be sure to use biodegradable materials to hang the treats. The more you decorate the tree, the more species you’ll at- tract and the more enjoyable the viewing experience.

To give birds time to find your tree, decorate early before the weather is at its worst. Not only will the birds appreciate it, you’ll save yourself undue weather-related stress! Ideally, choose a tree where there are feeders nearby. It will help the birds find the edible tree more quickly. Whether you make or buy your ornaments, be sure to make/buy extras for replacements throughout the winter. If possible, provide a heated birdbath to offer much-needed liquid water for the birds.

Participating in the CBC will help provide important data for researchers studying the status and ranges of bird populations. Decorating a tree for the birds can be fun and rewarding for you and your family, and it’s a great way to feed the birds and share some holiday spirit!