The annual Christmas Bird Count, organized by the National Audubon Society, takes place nationally each year as local chapters schedule their events between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.
Vashon Audubon’s count took place on Sunday, Jan. 3.
For the bird count, the Vashon “count circle” includes the entirety of both Vashon and Maury Islands as well as a sizeable portion of the Kitsap Peninsula and a small slice of Burien.
These areas are divided into smaller areas, and teams are assigned to different routes to identify the types and numbers of birds seen that day. This year, due to the pandemic, teams that were very limited in size were formed early. In addition, islanders were encouraged to count the birds in their own yards. According to Ezra Parker, Vashon’s Bird Count coordinator, there was a record number of feeder and yard counters this year.
Parker estimated that he expects to have the data in hand from the count within the month.
The Bird Count helps scientists monitor bird populations and migratory patterns across the US, Canada, and other countries in the Western Hemisphere, and also helps Vashon Audubon analyze trends here on Vashon.
For island photographer Jim Diers, Sunday’s count on Vashon proved challenging. At times, there were almost too many birds, he said, with more pine siskins, crows and wigeons than he could count. But many of the other birds were hunkered down, however, due to the driving rain.
“I did see several Bald Eagles, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Pileated Woodpecker, several Bewick’s wrens, and many Varied Thrushes as well as the usual suspects, but generally, the birds had more sense to stay out of the rain than we did,” Diers said.
The photographs here were taken by Diers on Jan 3 (crows, top) and on Jan. 1, when he had a better day, capturing hard-to-get images of Ruby-crowned Kinglets — birds that are small (about 4 inches) and very flighty (bottom). Diers said he also saw kinglets during the Audubon count.
For more information about Vashon Audubon and the bird count, visit vashonaudubon.org or write to Parker at email@example.com.