NWALT Joins the 118th Christmas Bird Count

Volunteers Survey Birds as Part of Nationwide Citizen Science Program

Birdwatchers look for birds at the Historic Johnson Pear Farm during the Christmas Bird Count

On Sunday December 17, several volunteers joined land trust staff to participate in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), America’s longest-standing citizen-science program. The CBC, which first began in 1900, is organized by the Audubon Society and takes place across the country. The Christmas Bird Count has a rich history of bird conservation and research. As part of its biomonitoring program, the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust led a team of birders to survey NWALT-conserved properties within the Fayetteville Count Circle.

The NWALT team surveyed five properties and covered a wide variety of habitats. Two riparian restoration projects along the West Fork of the White River yielded waterfowl, belted kingfishers and great blue herons. At the Historic Johnson Farm, the team observed golden-crowned kinglets flitting from branch to branch in the old pear orchards and enjoyed hot cider and cookies, provided by landowner Anne Prichard and Ryan and Amanda Bancroft, who run Ripples and assist with stewardship of the property.

In the afternoon, the team hiked along the ridge-line on Kessler Mountain Reserve, where they saw woodpeckers, and warblers, despite wet and foggy conditions. Finally, just before dusk, the volunteers visited Wilson Springs Preserve, where they counted hundreds of American robins as they came to roost for the night. There was a final flurry of activity from multiple sparrow species, providing a satisfying finale to a full day of birdwatching.

In all, the team counted 45 bird species across the five properties. The results of the count were compiled with the other teams at renowned ornithologist Doug James’ house, who led the first Fayetteville Christmas Bird Count in 1961. A total of 92 bird species were documented for the day!  These results will be added to the extensive Christmas Bird Count database, which has been used to document shifting habitat ranges due to changing climate conditions. It will also be used to inform management of NWALT’s properties.

Thanks to our dedicated birdwatching volunteers! If you are a birder and would like to become a biomonitoring volunteer, contact us to learn more and sign up.

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