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Archive for Saturday, December 17, 2011

Group masters science of bird-counting to gather data

Jon Standing, left, and Bill Busby survey a wooded area for birds along the River Trail in North Lawrence near the Eighth Street boat ramp Saturday. The two took part in the annual winter bird count, which runs Dec. 14-Jan. 5.

Jon Standing, left, and Bill Busby survey a wooded area for birds along the River Trail in North Lawrence near the Eighth Street boat ramp Saturday. The two took part in the annual winter bird count, which runs Dec. 14-Jan. 5.

December 17, 2011

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Stan Roth speaks about the annual winter bird count

Stan Roth, a retired Lawrence biology teacher, discusses his interest in the annual winter bird count.

Jon Standing, left, and Bill Busby survey a wooded area for birds along the River Trail in North Lawrence near the Eighth Street boat ramp Saturday. The two took part in the annual winter bird count, which runs Dec. 14-Jan. 5.

Jon Standing, left, and Bill Busby survey a wooded area for birds along the River Trail in North Lawrence near the Eighth Street boat ramp Saturday. The two took part in the annual winter bird count, which runs Dec. 14-Jan. 5.

They do it for the birds.

A small group of ornithological enthusiasts — mostly amateurs but with a few biologists to help out — took part in the annual winter bird count on Saturday. The day started at 5:45 a.m. with a predawn owl count and continued well into the afternoon with hiking, bird-spotting and note-taking.

Stan Roth, a retired Lawrence biology teacher, led a group of three surveying North Lawrence and much of the Kansas River bank.

He’s an old pro with winter bird counts — his first was in 1956. He wasn’t too interested in birds, he said, but his professor was the organizer of the winter bird count around Emporia State University at the time.

“A good student always does what his or her major professor does,” he said. “And I kind of got hooked.”

Roth said that the count benefited science and the participants, who “just enjoy what they’re doing.”

Bill Busby, a zoologist with the Kansas Biological Survey (though he was birding Saturday on his own time), said that participants in the count had been working to make it more scientific to increase the importance of the data, which is eventually sent to the Audubon Society.

Busby said that this year things had gone as expected, though the relatively warm day skewed the birds away from the riverbank and spillway.

“The birds have more choices because it’s milder,” he said. “(The water), they don’t always love it, but it’s the best choice when things are grim.”

The small group within the count spotted at least 65 different species, Roth said.

The count has been a tradition for Roth, whose group included a former student, Jon Standing, this year.

“It’s geeky,” he said. “But we’re not ashamed. We do it for the birds.”

Comments

riverdrifter 2 years, 10 months ago

Way to go guys. Nothing geeky about birding. I went out and loaded a deer feeder & checked a trail camera late today. Saw a pileated woodpecker flying off in the distance and not long after got a good look at a sapsucker. Walking out at sundown I heard another another pileated calling, almost at dark. He scuttled around the back side of a shagbark and peaked at me around the edge from behind. "The woods is alive."

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KEITHMILES05 2 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like alot of work to see birds. I mean seriously, birds are all over the place.

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Sean Livingstone 2 years, 10 months ago

There are good breakfast and there are great breakfast... breakfasts are served all over the place so why don't people just get them at MacDonald's all the time? :)

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devobrun 2 years, 10 months ago

Hmm, 3 guys walk around through the trees and the margins between trees, river, and farm fields, looking for birds. Hard hitting reportage. Now if these three explorers found some jobs north of the river.....oh, never mind.

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