Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012
The second annual Point Reyes Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) took place in the park on Saturday, January 7th.
Organized by the Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA), in partnership with the National Park Service, Sonoma Birding and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the event brought together over 100 children and parents who counted 977 birds and 71 species.
The children and parents split into nine groups led by naturalists who volunteered their time to teach the fundamentals of bird watching and counting. Each group covered a different part of the park and then returned with their tallies and stories to present their findings at the tabulation celebration. After the presentations, the families were treated to an educational visit by members of Sonoma Bird Rescue, who introduced attendees to a red-tailed hawk and great horned owl.
The event was expanded this year to include younger children, allowing participation by youths from age three to age 18.
“We appreciate the additional support provided by photographer Galen Leeds, Bovine Bakery of Point Reyes Station and REI,” said Deb Callahan, executive director of PRNSA. “We are thrilled to co-sponsor this free annual event for children and their families. It was especially gratifying to have such a tremendous turnout for the first event of Point Reyes National Seashore’s 50th anniversary.”
Among the rare and interesting birds sighted were the red-breasted nuthatch, mute swan, Swainson’s thrush, and peregrine falcon. The children also reported other interesting sightings, including a woodrat’s house, horses, a ranger, and the first violets of spring. A few things learned during the day were how to use binoculars; that you hear more birds than you see; that acorn woodpeckers store acorns in tree trunks; and that osprey like to nest on top of tree snags.
Last year’s event was the first of its kind to be held in a national park. Every year for over a century, Christmas Bird Counts (CBC's) have been organized across America through Audubon Society chapters, mainly for adults, during mid-December and early January. Young children with their families are often not included with this important 24-hour rigorous “citizen science” effort, so the CBC4Kids was created to instill some of the important basic ingredients of this grand old Audubon tradition. The objective is to have fun and potentially create a hometown team of birders and conservationists for the future while encouraging families to enjoy and respect nature together.
CBC4Kids was created by Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie of Sonoma Birding six years ago. The event has now gone nation-wide and was introduced in Canada this year. This year’s event was produced in support of the “Let’s Move Outside” project, a campaign spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama to promote outdoor physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle for children.