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Lakes Area Birding Club Christmas bird count Dec. 15

Get out the binoculars and bird books, the Lakes Area Birding Club will have its Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, Dec. 15, in Detroit Lakes. This annual event will be the last meeting of the birding club until March.

The Christmas Bird Count is sponsored by the National Audubon Society and is celebrating its 108th year as the largest and longest running annual bird census. Birders from throughout the United States submit information to the National Audubon Society. The Lakes Area Birding Club has been participating in the event since 1990, though club vice president Sally Hausken said the group is not a member of the society.

According to the club newsletter, the group saw 26 species in 1990 and 41 species in 1999. Last year the club spotted 29 species, a total of 1,766 birds. Some club members, like Hausken, have been participating in the count since it started, but new birders are always welcome.

Hausken, said the birding club breaks into groups to count birds in the Detroit Lakes area. She said a circle is drawn around the city and participants visit designated areas with feeders to count the number and species of birds spotted. The count begins at 9 a.m., though spotters can start counting as early as 12 a.m.

The newsletter, the MARSH WREN-dition, also offered advice for birders watching feeders at their homes. It said that to keep from counting the same birds multiple times, birders should only count the largest number of the same species seen at one time.

The trick to the count is identifying the birds that are seen or heard on the prescribed routes in the area. Anyone interested in participating is welcome to join the club for the day. New birders can pair up with experienced watchers to correctly identify the birds they see.

"It's very nice. If a person is interested, they could call Jim Holter," Hausken said.

Holter is the club leader for this year's count. He said there are about 15 people signed up to participate so far. Other area captains are Bruce Besse, Shar Legenhausen, and Bob Burke.

Hausken said the group will meet at the home of Miggs Anderson at 3 p.m. for an after-count tally and potluck snack buffet. Anderson lives at 1328 Corbett Road, Detroit Lakes.

"We compare notes of how many birds of each species (counters see)," Hausken said. They also talk about if they see any strange bird behavior or unique species.

"We saw a bunch of Bohemian waxwings at one point," Hausken said.

"Every year we see something that's not supposed to be around here," Holter said.

Interested in participating in this year's bird count? Contact Jim Holter at 218-847-6026.

The Lakes Area Birding Club will have its next meeting on March 31. The membership year begins in June and annual dues are $8 per household.