The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 28, 2013

Birds flock together

(Continued)

Nationally, the Christmas Bird Count itself has been running for 114 years.

Those figures have been used in books and magazines as well as in narratives that scientists send to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, reports filed with museums, including the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale and in at least one recorded instance, as research for a graduate student writing their master's thesis.

So what kinds of numbers is Wapello County looking at?

"It's hard to compare, due to the weather; this year we counted 32 different species of birds. In 2008, the best we've done, is 42 different kinds. We want the most we can find. We ended up with 1,909 total birds. That's usually our count for Canada geese."

There is good news, however, for wildlife enthusiasts.

"For the first time, we got to put trumpeter swans on the list. The [DNR] had a reintroduction program going on. It's just in the past couple years we've seen them around here."

Sometimes a birdwatcher or photographer will report seeing a mating pair in a lake. Last Friday, there were more.

"There was a flock of 29 that we saw," said Whitrock. "Now they're really making a comeback. It's been neat to see, and to be able to count those was great."

— To follow reporter Mark Newman on Twitter, see @CourierMark

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