Christmas Bird Count
From December 14 through January 5 tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations. Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission - often before dawn. For over one hundred years, the desire to both make a difference and to experience the beauty of nature has driven dedicated people to leave the comfort of a warm house during the Holiday season.
Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations - and to help guide conservation action.
From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition -- and with the knowledge that their efforts are making a difference for science and bird conservation.
Since the Christmas Bird count began over a century ago, it has relied on the dedication and commitment of volunteers like you.
Sign-up for the 114th Christmas Bird Count is now open! Find a circle near you and sign up to participate. It is free to participate!
For beginning birders, or folks who just enjoy the comfort of their own kitchen, backyard birding is the best way to begin an fascinating activity. All you need is some place to put a feeder, some water and a hiding place for them. If you build it, they will come to you! You will see many of the same birds every day, with an opportunity to observe their behavior closely.
Provide a variety of foods to attract different kinds of birds. You can buy bird feeders or make your own. To attract the greatest variety of birds, keep your feeders stocked all year round and position them at different heights.
Place feeders in places that aren’t too windy, have good cover nearby, and minimize other hazards.
Fill feeders with the amount of food that can be eaten in 2-3 days.
Keep feeders and feeding area clean by raking up spilled seed on the ground. Eliminate food that the birds aren’t eating.
Experiment to find out which foods the birds prefer. Here are some
to try: black oil sunflower seeds, Niger thistle seeds, cracked corn, white millet, and seed mixtures (sold as “wild bird food”). For additional bird feeding tips visit Audubon At Home.
THANKS to Feeders Supply for generously
marketing our mixes donating a portion
of sales to Louisville Audubon Society.
Available at all area Feeders Supply stores, our
Louisville Audubon bird seed comes in two mixes:
Original (blue-striped bag) for ground feeding
Gourmet Cardinal (red-striped bag)for hanging feeder
Each mix is packaged in 20# and 40# bags
Competitively priced, triple-cleaned and fresh stock
If there isn’t a natural source of fresh water nearby, you can buy or make a simple birdbath or water dish. Place the water source on a tree stump or even right on the ground. Keep the water container clean and filled with fresh water.
Nesting and Resting:
Birds need places where they can rest in safety from predators, as well as places to build their nests. If you have space, you and your family can plant native bushes and trees that give birds good hiding and nesting places. (Some also provide food!) Check with a local Audubon Center or other nature center for help choosing the right things to plant.
For more information on bird feeding, read Project Feederwatch from Cornell University. Click the Feeder Birds of Kentucky at left to download the entire brochure about the birds which might come to your Kentucky feeders.
For a close look at your backyard visitors, a set of binoculars comes in handy. Many people have questions about buying and using binoculars, and The Audubon Society can answer all your questions. Read this article by Wayne Mones from the Audubon Magazine to find out why you have always had trouble trying to see through binoculars, and what to do about it. Click the Audubon Guide to Binoculars icon on this page to read/download or print a handy guide.
If you’re considering a new pair of binoculars, it doesn’t mean you should toss the old ones or stick them in a closet and forget about them. Consider contacting the Birders Exchange Program at the American Birding Association, which takes old, waterproof pairs in good working condition.
Backyard Bird of the Month
The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years. The total House Finch population across North America is staggering. Scientists estimate between 267 million and 1.4 billion individuals.
House Finches eat almost exclusively plant materials, including seeds, buds and fruits. Wild foods include wild mustard seeds, knotweed, thistle, mulberry, poison oak, cactus, and many other species. In orchards, House Finches eat cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, blackberries, and figs. At feeders they eat black oil sunflower over the larger, striped sunflower seeds, millet, and milo.
Adult males are rosy red around the face and upper breast, with streaky brown back, belly and tail. In flight, the red rump is conspicuous. Adult females aren’t red; they are plain grayish-brown with thick, blurry streaks and an indistinctly marked face. The bird’s long, twittering song, which can now be heard in most of the neighborhoods, an extensive series of warbling notes ending in a zeee, canarylike but without the musical trills and rolls. Sings from a high tree, antenna, or similar post for prolonged periods. If you haven’t seen one recently, chances are you can find one at the next bird feeder you come across.
Audubon's award-winning environmental education program about the natural world and how to protect it can be implemented in any classroom or after-school program. All it takes is an interest in exploring, learning about, and enjoying the natural world around you.
Audubon Adventures gives teachers many ways to help students meet required educational performance and content standards in science and language arts. Audubon Adventures fosters in children a stewardship ethic to last a lifetime.
Birdwatching for the Entire Family
Birdwatching is a favorite hobby for millions of Americans. For many, birding is serious business, with participants becoming experts in locating and identifying even the rarest of birds. But birding can be simple, too, and you don't need to know how to identify a single species to help your kids get started.
- Pick a time of day for your walk when birds are most plentiful — usually early morning or late afternoon works best.
- Start nearby. Walk through your yard or neighborhood or a local park. As your kids become more invested in birding, you can explore wilder places. Take kids to a pond, lake, or wildlife refuge where they can easily see large water birds such as ducks, geese, or herons — or to a nature center with a bird feeding station where they can closely observe birds coming to a feeder.
- Some of the very best habitat for birding consists of open water wetlands, where you can see water birds easily and note their field marks and behaviors. There will usually be a number of small birds like marsh wrens and song sparrows at wetlands as well, which can offer a greater challenge to a slightly more advanced birder. And you may get to see an osprey or bald eagle!
- Be sure to dress your kids in comfortable clothes. Bring along snacks and sunscreen. Bring binoculars if you want, or pairs of empty toilet paper rolls to make pretend binoculars. They won't make the birds look bigger, but they will help kids focus in. If you want to get binoculars for your kids to use, they should be small enough that they are easy to hold, with a wide field of view and an easy way to focus them. For advice on more advanced binocular selection, you can read more here.
- For older kids, consider bringing along field guides to help them identify the species they are spotting. A great guide to backyard birds — with a foldout ID chart — is Audubon Pocket Backyard Birdwatch, which can be ordered at us.dk.com.
- You might want to consider getting a spotting scope, which allows an adult to focus in on a bird and easily show it to kids.
On the Walk
- Explain to the kids that they'll see the most birds if they keep quiet. Have them move slowly and try to blend in with the surroundings. You might choose to have them sit for a while, too. Learning to be still in order to tune into the natural world is one of the greatest lessons kids can learn.
- Encourage your kids to observe the different kinds of birds they see. What color is the bird? How big? Does it have long legs or short legs? What kinds of noises does it make?
- Also encourage your kids to note aspects of the birds' behaviors. Are they singing? Perching? Walking? Swimming? Making nests?
- If you like, keep notes about the birds you see. Encourage your kids to sketch some of them.
- Celebrate every observation and discovery. It doesn't matter how many birds you see. Sometimes watching one bird for a long time yields the greatest rewards.
After the Walk
- Encourage your kids to look for the birds they saw in a field guide. If they want, they can go back and label their sketches.
- If your kids become hooked on birding, encourage them to begin keeping a Life List of all the birds they've ever seen. You can find a list of North American birds on the website of the Baltimore Bird Club at http://BaltimoreBirdClub.org/nabirds.html.
- Have your kids help pick the next place you'll go for a bird walk. Be sure to compare the kinds of birds you find in different places. Ask your kids to think about why some birds are found in certain places and not others. (Proximity to water, preference for fields or forests, adapted to cities or suburbs, etc.)
For more information on birding, check out Audubon's resources on birding basics: http://www.audubon.org/bird/at_home/bird_watching/index.shtml
The Four Saddest Words
“You should have seen.”
You should have seen the vast flocks of Passenger Pigeons swirling overhead.
You should have seen the beautiful, vividly-colored Carolina Parakeets.
What bird will disappear next?
Make your voice count for endangered birds. Donate to the National Audubon Society today and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
In Nebraska’s Platte River Valley, Audubon is creating a future for a great North American migration spectacle: Half a million Sandhill Cranes converge here each spring as they journey north.
Mixed in with the Sandhills are a handful of critically endangered Whooping Cranes. They’re easy to miss—fewer than 300 of these magnificent birds survive in the wild, driven to the brink by hunting and egg collection.
The Whooping Crane is just one of the 10 under 10,000—that is, 10 U.S. bird species whose populations have fallen under 10,000 individuals. We’re spotlighting these species as ambassadors for all endangered birds, their habitats, and the planet we share.
As threats to birds mount, Audubon is enhancing the conservation tools we use to help Whooping Cranes and other birds. For example:
We're using science to learn about bird populations. Audubon scientists are using data from 113 years of the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) and other sources to predict the effects of climate disruption on birds and habitat.
We're saving the most critical habitats for birds across the Americas. Audubon has identified thousands of Important Bird Areas (IBAs). So far, there are 2,500 IBAs in the U.S., including 449 of global significance.
Remember, your gift counts x2. Your donation to Audubon will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
We're creating bird-friendly communities and cities. With more than 500 Audubon Centers and Chapters active nationwide, we engage people to improve the habitat where they live and to advocate for and lead environmental protection in their communities.
We're passing the torch to a new generation. More than a century ago, Audubon pioneers banded together to stop the feather trade. Today, our online outreach—including the popular Birding the Net contest—is engaging ever-growing numbers of young birders.
Your generous gift will help ensure that our children grow up in a world where they will never hear, “You should have seen” again.
John James Audubon (1785-1851) was not the first person to attempt to paint and describe all the birds of America (Alexander Wilson has that distinction), but for half a century he was the young country’s dominant wildlife artist.
"Louisville extends along the river for seven or eight miles . . . The rumbling sound of the waters, as they tumble over the rock paved bed of the rapids, is at all times soothing to the ear. Fish and game are abundant. But above all, the generous hospitality of the inhabitants . . . had induced me to fix upon it as a place of residence."
Audubon was born in Haiti, educated in France and moved to the US in 1803 to avoid Napoleon's war draft. He and his new bride, Lucy Bakewell Audubon, moved to Louisville, KY, in 1808, where he ran a general store when he wasn't pursuing birds. Their first child, Victor Gifford Audubon, was born there. They moved to Henderson, KY, in 1811.
Abandoning the custom of painting wildlife in stiff poses, he used wire to hold a dead bird (which he had shot) in a lifelike pose, frequently with outstretched wings. Since no one had binoculars at that time, shooting a bird was the only way to get a close look at it. He revolutionized wildlife painting by portraying his specimens in their natural habitats.
Audubon dedicated himself to publishing books of hand-colored engravings of his paintings of every bird species in North America. Because he insisted that each bird's portrayal be life-sized, the books had "double elephant" pages, 39.5 inches by 28.5 inches!
To raise the necessary funds, he sold advance subscriptions. Yet only the wealthy could afford such a luxury nearly two centuries ago. So Audubon shrewdly tapped affluent European's keen interest in the American frontier. Dressed in buckskins and telling more than his share of tall tales, the "American Woodsman" made the rounds among European socialites' parties and charmed his way into enough subscription sales to realize his dream. Once the first volume was published, Audubon and his talents quickly became sensations.
Origins of the Audubon Society
When the Audubon Society first formed in 1886, plume hunters were decimating North American bird populations in the name of fashion. Ladies trimmed their hats and clothing with birds' exotic feathers. Shorebirds and migratory birds that stayed near the water suffered the most as hunters targeted large flocks, injuring animals indiscriminately and orphaning chicks.
George Bird Grinnell, the Audubon Society's founder, was an atypical animal activist. He ran "Forest and Stream," a hunting and fishing journal, and enjoyed quarrying big game. But the unmitigated slaughter of birds for their feathers disturbed even the most avid hunters. Grinnell began publishing pieces against plume hunting in his magazine. His enthusiasm soon drove him to produce an independent pamphlet, entitled "Audubon Magazine," in honor of the illustrator John James Audubon. Although Grinnell had not known Audubon, he had attended the day school of the artist's widow and wandered among his artifacts.The Society existed only in the magazine,andGrinnell could not keep pace with the magazine's success shutting down publication in 1888.
Eight years later, Boston socialite Harriet Hemenway decided to take her own stand against the still-rampant practice of plume hunting. She and a cousin scoured the Boston Blue Book, an index of the city's elite, marking names of fashionable women who dressed in plumes and inviting them to join a society for the protection of birds. Hemenway united the ladies with naturalists and people interested in ornithology; the group called itself the Massachusetts Audubon Society.
By the turn of the century, the society had expanded across the country, unified under a national committee and encouraged federal and state legislation against plume hunting. The Audubon Society helped create the first Federal Bird Reservation which ultimately led to the formation of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Louisville Audubon Society
8207 Westport R.
Louisville, KY 40222
Your Louisville Audubon Society underwrites environmental education programs for local Title I children that might not otherwise have an opportunity to explore and bond with nature. Mail your tax-deductible donation to:
Louisville Audubon Society
8207 Old Westport Road
Louisville, KY 40222
Join Audubon ONLINE
Membership in the Louisville chapter automatically gives you membership in the National Audubon Society. Click here to join Audubon.
LOUISVILLE AUDUBON SOCIETY FORGES NEW
RELATIONSHIP WITH BECKHAM BIRD CLUB
For several years, the Louisville Audubon Society has been looking
for new ways to provide its membership with a sufficient level of activities.
Thanks to our friends at the Beckham Bird Club, beginning in 2012
the Louisville Audubon Society will initiate an agreement with the BBC
to share a designated number of quarterly field trips and programs. If you would like to join us in a birding walk, please look at the list on Beckham's website.
Beckham has a long history of providing a wealth of opportunities
for learning more about our region’s birdlife, and LAS is very
appreciative of the Club’s willingness to broaden those opportunities to
the LAS membership. In return, LAS will help sponsor some of BBC’s
annual events, including the upcoming Annual March Dinner Meeting. The 2013 Beckham Bird Club annual dinner with keynote speaker Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, for a celebration of the power of birding to heal and transform, not only our own lives but even our world. LAS will also assist in
coming up with other program speakers, leading field trips, and soliciting
pledges for the club’s annual May Birdathon.
Officers and Directors
|Vice-President & Treasurer
||Brainard Palmer-Ball, Jr.