Audubon Society of Portland will hold the Great Backyard Bird Count from Feb. 17 through 20

For those who missed the Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 30, the Audubon Society of Portland will hold the Great Backyard Bird Count from Feb. 17 through 20. It is held internationally every February, with the goal of getting a snapshot of bird numbers and distribution across the globe.

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Mark Eaton looks at a bald eagle through a scope during the recent Christmas Bird Count. Participants sign up on the ASP website and commit to count birds anywhere for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the four count days.

Then they tally the number of individuals of each species and enter their totals into a free account through eBird.

According to the Audubon Society of Portland website, last year participants in Oregon submitted 2,570 checklists. The website further noted that the GBBC helps scientists determine trends and identify long-term declines that may call for conservation attention and further study.

92nd Christmas Bird Count

Dan Strong, the leader of the southeast sector of the December bird count and also the leader of one of the Milwaukie legs of the event, noted that in the southeast metro area, "total individual birds returned to average after a record high last year; largely a result of the slightly less than average count of Cackling Goose during this count."

PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Ron Myers, in red hat, group leader Dan Strong and Mark Fitzsimons check out a kestrel in the area behind La Salle Prep.In the metro area overall, 60 counters braved clear skies and clement temperatures to find 11,172 individual birds and 90 different species during this year's count," Strong said.

Three groups counted birds in the Milwaukie area, two in the central areas and one along the waterfront.

In Strong's group at the very first site, a pond at Giadanj Estates just off King Road, the sightings included buffleheads, coots, shovelers, a magnificent merganser, a ruddy duck, Canada and Cackling geese and mallard ducks.

The group then moved to the other side of the pond where they saw waxwings and finches.

At two other sites, just off King Road and behind LaSalle High School, the sightings included a bald eagle, hummingbirds, scrub jays, a Steller's jay, chickadees, nuthatches, a red-tailed hawk, a falcon, a kestrel and a merlin.

National count

The Christmas Bird Count is a nationwide event, and at the end of the day all the leaders in the metro area met at the Audubon House in Portland to compile numbers.

The website of the Portland Audubon Society notes that the information gathered during the count is sent to the Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University, where over the years CBC records have been used to study changes in bird populations and wintering ranges.

Rebecca Eaton was part of the Milwaukie group and said this was the first time she had ever taken part in the bird count.

What she enjoyed most about the event was "learning more about bird calls and flight, the sightings and being outdoors."

It was special to "contribute to a national count," she said, adding that the kestrel was her favorite sighting of the day.

Her husband Mark, also a CBC first-timer, noted that it was good to know that "in an urban setting there are still a lot of wild things."

For Milwaukie resident Mark Fitzsimons, the bird count was personal because he had participated in this event with his father when he was a child.

Count birds

What: The Great Backyard Bird Count

When: Feb. 17-20

Details: To learn more, click on Click on detailed instructions and then click on instructions under GBBC Toolkit and follow the prompts.

More: For more information, email Joe Liebezeit, Portland Audubon's avian conservation program manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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