Why, the great Christmas Bird Count, of course!
A bit of history, first: back in the good olde days, after after the traditional roast goose, plum pudding and other indigestible delights, the men would gather for the Side Hunt. (Your side against mine, you see.) And the point of this hunt was to blow away every bird you could hit — game birds, song birds, birds of prey, for all I know Aunt Sadie’s canary, if you could hit it. At the end of the day, whoever had the biggest pile of mangled feathers was the winner.
But on Christmas Day, 1900, a new idea was born. Ornithologist Frank Chapman made the radical suggestion that birds could be counted by teams covering a designated area, performing the avian equivalent of a census. That humble beginning of 27 birders has grown to tens of thousands across the Americas, establishing over a century’s-worth of range, habitat and population records. And it sounds like fun, too.
Well, if we’d gone out Monday as originally planned, ‘fun’ is not the word I’d choose. But Thursday is supposed to be somewhat sunny and above freezing, and the roads are mostly clear. Our section is one corner of southern Rensselaer county, in the towns of East Schodack and Nassau. Too bad I live just out of the area, or we could just look out my kitchen window and count all my regulars, plus the Snow Buntings that are still showing up at the farm.
“Come, Watson, come. The game is afoot!” (or aflight, as the case may be.) Here’s hoping for clear skies and great sightings!