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Archive for Thursday, January 20, 1994

BIRD LOVERS FLOCK TO CLINTON LAKE FOR WINTER COUNT

January 20, 1994

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Several area residents took part in an annual Kansas winter bird count last weekend. The results should be known by April 1.

If results from a count at the Clinton State Park office are any indication, the number of birds in the area hasn't significantly flapped up or down.

"It's been about average over here," said Mary Butterbrodt, secretary at the park and member of the Kansas Ornithological Society.

The society and the state's Department of Wildlife and Parks last weekend sponsored the seventh annual Winter Bird Feeder Survey.

The count is held to determine the numbers and types of species in the state.

Bird enthusiasts spend two days recording the number and species of birds that come to their feeders.

At Clinton State Park this year, Butterbrodt said she counted 42 birds of 11 different species, including cardinals, pine siskins, blue jays and a yellow-shafted flicker.

In recent years, eight to 10 different species had been spotted at the park's office feeder.

"Of course, what I have is just from the feeder here at the office," she said. "That doesn't include the birds around the whole lake" or in other areas of Douglas County.

Participants of the bird count use a form that outlines the species and number of birds. The count is taken using the highest number of birds seen at one time.

For example, if 10 Cardinals are seen at 9 a.m., 11 at noon and seven at 4 p.m., 11 Cardinals are counted.

The higher number is used because birds aren't marked, said Elmer Finck, an assistant professor of biology at Emporia State University, who compiles data for the bird count.

"We're trying to get the total count," he said. "Because the birds aren't marked, what you must do is count the most you see at one time."

Many birds, he said, will visit feeders several times a day and mistakenly could be counted more than once.

Finck has been tabulating the state's birds for the last four years. The winter count is the only major feeder count taken by the state, he said.

Finck tabulates the number and species of birds by county. About 25 to 30 people participate in the count in Douglas County, Finck said.

He said the bird count is important because "It allows us to see year-to-year trends and maybe long-term trends," such as why some birds migrate to different areas of the state.

"We can begin to at least speculate why they move, and have things to be looking at," he said.

A total for this year should be compiled in April, he said.

Last year, a total of 912 people participated in the bird count.

The species seen most statewide in last winter's survey included 19,664 house (English) sparrows, 15,798 American goldfinches, and 10,065 European starlings.

Unusual species recorded included pileated woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, eastern bluebird and rofous-sided towhee.

In all, 127,551 birds of 100 different species were observed in the 1993 survey.

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