Instead of counting sheep, why not count birds?
The Environmental Discovery Center hosted its annual Great Backyard Bird Count celebration on Saturday February 19, an annual global initiative that encourages people to observe and count as many birds as possible during a four-day period in February. By reporting their findings, scientists can work to better understand global populations before a species’ annual migration, according to the Great Backyard Bird Count website, sponsored by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
At Ormond Beach, the EDC, in partnership with Halifax River Audubon, only one day of official sightings took place, but during the 222 minutes of birding tours through Central Park, a total of 37 species different species – and 175 birds – were spotted. . Edgewater resident Danny Young led the bird walks this year and, as an environmental consultant who has been involved with Central Park for about 15 years, he knows the hiking trails well.
“As far as birds go, it was pretty much what we expected,” Young said. “We had the typical winter residents who migrate here and our year-round residents, and just a handful of very early spring migrants.”
But seeing two Limpkins was definitely the highlight of the 2.41-mile tours, Young said, because the bird is only found in Florida in the United States.
“So that’s sort of our specialty,” said Young, who is also a member of the Florida Native Plant Society’s Pawpaw chapter. “And there’s a story that goes with it about snails and invasive species and habitat change. So now it’s a good single species to weave a whole story about how ecosystems work, how invasive species can impact ecosystems, hydrological changes can impact species, etc.
Spotting two Egyptian geese was unexpected though. The geese, found on the corner of Fleming Avenue and Parkview Lane, are native to Africa, and Young said he would rather not see them as they are escaped exotic animals. Not really a goose, but a relative of shelducks, the Egyptian goose is considered a pest in its native and adopted ranges; Florida, Texas and southern California have established breeding populations, likely as a result of escaped birds, according to iBird.
The number of species seen in this year’s count is down this year from 2021, but that’s because the EDC only held one day of sightings, said master naturalist Joan Tague. of Ormond Beach, in an email. In 2021, a total of 49 species were observed in Central Park, per four-day observation period.
“Last year we counted under the constraints of the pandemic,” Tague said. “It didn’t mean any fun community events, but rather a call for individuals to come out and count.”
Worldwide, the Great Backyard Bird Count reported 7,037 species sighted in 253 countries. The highest number of species, 1,228, have been reported from Colombia. The United States reported 688 species, but provided the most checklists at 190,102 out of an estimated total of 287,000.