Fourteen teams of volunteer bird counters met before dawn at locations all over Baton Rouge on Friday to participate in the Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count, said Dan Mooney, with the Baton Rouge Audubon Society.
The society marked a 15-mile diameter circle with the intersection of Gardere Road and Highland Road as the center, Mooney said, divided those areas into sectors and sent each team in to an area to count as many individual birds as they could see or hear, he said.
Each team is trained to collect specific data, he said, all of which will be entered into a national database maintained by the national Audubon Society.
Field counters moved through sectors counting and documenting birds in natural habitat, while another 40 watched specified bird feeders as part of the project, Mooney said.
Kimberly Lanka headed the group’s LSU sector, starting near the levee and working their way around campus, despite the bad weather.
“I start at dawn and keep counting until sunset, when we can count the birds coming in to roost around the lakes,” she said.
This year marks the 115th count overall and the 41st in Baton Rouge, Mooney said.
“We generally get around 135 species on average, with 150 being the record high for the Baton Rouge Count.”
The final tally for this year won’t be in until the feeder locations send in their counts by regular mail, he said.
According to the National Audubon website, volunteers across the Americas pitch in to register official bird population counts from Dec. 14 through Jan. 5, in all kinds of weather.
“Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlsife census to assess the health of bird populations — and to help guide conservation action,” the website stated.
“From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition and with the knowledge that their efforts are making a difference for science and bird conservation.”