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Archive for Saturday, January 17, 1998

WINTER BIRD SURVEY COUNTING ON PUBLIC

January 17, 1998

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Bird watcher survey takes note of area species

Name that bird.

Bird-feeder owners are encouraged to take some time this weekend for amateur sleuthing.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks and the Kansas Ornithological Society are sponsoring the 1998 Winter Bird Feeder Survey. The survey is designed to help ornithologists track the habits of regional birds and keep a record of increasing and decreasing populations.

"In wintering birds we've seen dramatic switches," said Elmer Finck, an Emporia State University associate professor of biology who analyzes the results of the survey.

"For example, the house finch is native to California. Then, it was taken to the East Coast. Ten years ago it was not one of the top 10 in Kansas; now it's in the top four. It's spread clear across the state."

The house sparrow remains the most spotted species by bird watchers and backyard feeders, those people who do not actively track birds, but place feeders in their yards.

Gold finches, house finches, dark-eyed juncos, European starlings and cardinals are also among the most common species found in Kansas.

Keeping track of species migration helps ornithologists better understand birds within the state, Finck said.

Completing the survey is voluntary, but backyard feeders have a responsibility to the birds in their area, Finck said.

"If someone starts feeding birds, they should complete the cycle," he said. "If they start in November they should continue through March. Birds begin to learn where feeders are and rely on them. If they're not there it can be detrimental to the birds."

-- JL Watson phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is watson@ljworld.com.

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