BirdTrax: Latest Sightings

More than 50,000 observers participate each year in this all-day census of early-winter bird populations. The results of their efforts are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing over a century of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas. Simply put, the Christmas Bird Count, or "CBC", is citizen science in action.

Prior to 1900, people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt". They would choose sides and go into the field with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered (and furred) quarry won. Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the 20th century, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, an early officer in the then budding Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a "Christmas Bird Census"-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them. So began the Christmas Bird Count.

The Bermuda Audubon Society held its 33rd CBC on 29th December 2007. Features of this year’s count included:

  • 6,921 individual birds (very similar to last year’s total)
  • 95 species of birds (100 in 2006)
  • Three new species for count day
  • European Starling was the most common species (23% of the count)
  • Nearly 250 species have now been record on the CBC in Bermuda since 1975

Seventeen members of the Society counted every bird from dawn to dusk as well as adding any additional species seen during the week. Considerable effort went into planning the count, with the observers dividing the island up into nine areas. Completing much on the census on foot, observers also used car, bike, boat and golf carts! Some unusual species were seen this year. New species for Bermuda’s count included a Black Rail seen in Devonshire Marsh, a highly secretive small bird that is hardly ever spotted in Bermuda. A Cliff Swallow was seen during the count week at Daniel’s Head Farm, the first time this species has ever been recorded during the winter. A Peregrine Falcon seen in Harrington Sound had not been seen on count day before. Two Yellow-throated Vireos in St. George’s and on Morgan’s Point were new for both the count day and count week. Other unusual species included a Brant Goose on Tucker’s Point golf course, a Northern Gannet off Gibbet’s Island. The photo shows the Brant, of which less than ten have ever been recorded in Bermuda (photo: Andrew Dobson). This one was seen on Tuckers Point golf course. Two globally endangered species of birds were recorded, our own national bird, the Cahow, and the Piping Plover, a small shorebird which breeds in the eastern US and Canada. A total of 46 Belted Kingfishers was the highest count ever recorded for this species. However, nearly 50% of all birds recorded were starlings, kiskadees or sparrows – all invasive species which shouldn’t really be in Bermuda and they have certainly have an impact on our local birds. The low numbers of migrant warblers continues a depressing downward trend in the population of these species. It is a reflection of loss of habitat in summer (breeding grounds) and wintering areas and in some cases the effects of global warming. Citizen Science is a way for people to connect with the natural world through fun activities that generate vital information for the conservation of birds. This partnership benefits us all: observers learn about birds by taking part in these science-based activities, and Audubon's science staff gain invaluable information. Most importantly, the birds benefit because it helps Audubon focus on those birds and habitats that need our help most. As to the future in Bermuda - the considerable variety and number of birds wintering in Bermuda emphasizes the need to maintain and protect open spaces. Private landowners can help by planting trees and shrubs and trying to leave some natural ‘wild’ areas on their property. The Government has a series of national parks, but it can further assist by allocating money to the purchase of open space and not allowing the development of areas zoned as woodland reserve and arable land. Everyone can help by supporting organizations like Buy Back Bermuda, the Bermuda Audubon Society and the Bermuda National Trust in their efforts to establish and maintain nature reserves.

Longtail in flight Bermuda

Longtails

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Bluebird in flight, worm in mouth, bluebird box

Bluebirds

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Cahow in flight Bermuda

Cahows

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Cockroach Island Bermuda, Audubon Nature Reserve Bermuda

Audubon Nature Reserves

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BHS building Bluebird boxes

Environmental Issues

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Kids' Activities

Kids' Activities

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Acknowledgements:

Photos courtesy of Andrew Dobson, Paul Watson, Chris Burville, Ras Mykkal, Jennifer Gray, Rosalind Wingate, Rick Slaughter and others.

Get in Touch!

Telephone: (441) 238-8628

Email: info@audubon.bm

Website: www.audubon.bm


The Bermuda Audubon Society
P.O. Box HM 1328
Hamilton HM FX
Bermuda