Friday, December 6, 2013

Bird Watches

Day 6: Bird Watches

Have you ever been involved in a bird watch? This is a neat way to get some time outside, observe birds, socialize, and contribute to citizen scientist projects. This is a form of Nature Kindness on several levels, as we are kind to ourselves as we socialize, get ourselves outside, and share needed information about the local birds. The information is used to understand trends and behaviors in birds better.

Last year, I participated in a couple of bird watches. There were several entry points for the beginner to the advanced birder. There are even options for children or from sitting in the warmth of your own home.

Here are a few Christmas Bird Counts coming up in the Michiana area:

Saturday, December 21st is a major day with both Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site and South Bend holding their Christmas bird counts. St. Joseph County Parks is also hosting a Christmas Bird Count for kids. I went to this last winter with my son. I must admit, it was just my speed! Read about our experience here. I enjoyed learning about the history of the counts, birding basics, getting outside, and discovering birds in more depth!

Here is information on the Gene-Stratton Porter State Historic Site Christmas Bird Count:
December 21st! Join us for some citizen science as we count the birds and participate in a national Audubon program started more than 100 years ago. Bird watchers of all skill levels are invited to participate in this free program. Please contact the Site for more information and to sign up (260-854-3790 or

Here is information on the South Bend Count:

South Bend Count - December 21, 2013
This will be the 70th consecutive count for the South Bend circle, centered at the intersection of Michigan and Washington Streets. Teams will count all the birds within a 7.5 mile radius of this intersection. The circle is divided into five sectors with each sector having a count leader. To join in the fun as a field counter, please contact one of the area leaders listed below or call (574) 272-8262 or email
Individuals who have home feeders and live within the count circle can participate by counting the birds that come to their feeders on December 21st and report them to Vic Riemenschneider at (574) 272-8262 or via email. Please leave your name, list of maximum number of birds of each species seen during the day, and your telephone number on the recorder if no answer. Please note the number of hours you watched the feeder during the day. All counts must be from within the 7.5 mile radius and counted on December 21, 2013. To learn more about NAS Christmas Counts, visit (from South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society's Leaves)

Here is info on the Christmas Bird Count for Kids:

  • 21           Saturday
  • Christmas Bird Count for Kids
  • St. Patrick’s County Park: Brown Barn
  • 9am to noon
  • Free
Calling young birders! Join park staff for a program in conjunction with the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. Kids, 3rd-8th grade, are invited to this FREE morning of birding. A count of birds at the feeders will be followed by birding on the trails. Snack and hot cocoa will be provided. Bring binoculars or borrow a pair from the park. Dress for the weather. Space is limited; registration is required by December 18.

On January 4th, Elkhart County will hold its 18th Annual Christmas Bird Count. I went on a hosted hike for the bird count in Elkhart County last year. Read about this here. It was nice to have guides who had a little more birding experience! I also enjoyed meeting together with others involved in the count at the end of the day. This was an excellent time to learn where to find different birds around the county, such as bald eagles. I ended up with a mental map of where birds are in the county.

Here is information for the Elkhart County Christmas Bird Count:

Elkhart County Count - January 4, 2014
The Elkhart County count circle extends from the state line on the north to Waterford Mills on the south end, and includes the towns of Bristol, Middlebury, Goshen, and the eastern portion of Elkhart. The center of the 7.5 mile radius for the count circle is the intersection of County Roads 18 and 23.
During the 18th annual Elkhart County Count, Field Observers will be assigned an area and given maps to count birds within a designated part of Elkhart County. Teams will bird by car and foot from dawn to dusk. Participants should dress for the weather and bring binoculars and field guides. Field observers will meet at Ox Bow House Shelter in Ox Bow County Park on Saturday, January 4th at 7:30 a.m. Ox Bow County Park is located at 23033 County Road 45 in Dunlap.
Feeder Counters can count birds in their yards. Participants must count the highest number of species seen at once in their yard on Saturday, January 4th. Feeder counts can take place anytime throughout the day.
The Elkhart Environmental Center will offer a Bird Hike at 9:00 a.m. for beginner to intermediate bird watchers who would like to experience the count. Lindsay Grossman will lead birders in a variety of habitats near the Elkhart River.
All participants are welcome to meet at the One Room School House from 5:00-7:00 p.m. the evening of the count to enjoy a bowl of soup, share stories, and compile species! Bring a dish if you wish; soup and drinks will be provided.
Please pre-register by contacting Ronda DeCaire with the Elkhart County Parks at (574) 535-6458 or e-mail with your name, address, phone number, and e-mail to receive further directions for the bird count. (from South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society's Leaves)

There are also feeder watch options. It can take just a short time a few days a week to survey what birds you see at your feeder. Find details here. The South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society also regularly holds birding hikes, keeping tallies of the birds seen/heard along the way. I have appreciated these hikes as well!