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Christmas Bird Count Monday Dec. 29
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     The Cheyenne Bottoms Christmas Bird Count originally scheduled for Dec. 18 will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 29, at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center. Lunch will be available for participants courtesy of the KWEC and Nature Conservancy.
To participate in the count at Cheyenne Bottoms, come to the KWEC, 592 NE K-156. Volunteers don’t have the spend the entire day, KWEC Manager Curtis J. Wolf said, but it’s best if they can come for at least half a day.

     During the count, volunteers are put into small groups and conduct count circles where they count and record every bird they see on their assigned route. The object is for birders to find and record all the birds within the count area during the day.

     This event is part of the nationwide Audubon Christmas Bird Court, which started Dec. 14 and continues through Jan. 5.

     The Golden Belt received 4-6 inches of snow the night before Dec. 18, making the roads unsafe to drive. “We were able to contact all the people we knew were coming out,” Curtis said. For that reason, preregistration is suggested. Call the center’s toll-free telephone number, 877-243-9268, for more information.

     Families, scientists, students and bird enthusiasts of all ages will take part in CBC’s across the U.S., in one of the best forms of citizen science. Results of these counts are used by scientists for assessing conservation efforts and tracking overall health and population numbers of bird species.
 CBC’s are a great way for beginner bird watchers to learn from more experienced bird watchers.

Raptors and sparrows

     Wolf said the bird count at Cheyenne Bottoms varies, but the presence of water in the pools does help the numbers.
     “This time of year, it’s very dependant on what the recent weather has been,” he said. At present, raptors — bird of prey including Bald Eagles and hawks — are a common site. There are also seven or eight different species of sparrows.
“These aren’t house sparrows,” Wolf said. “They are species you don’t see at your feeders in town.”

     About 40 different CBC’s are held annually across Kansas. One was conducted on Dec. 16 at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Stafford County. That count encompassed all of the Refuge, as well as some of the surrounding lands. Some groups were also out during pre-dawn hours to check for owls.