Christmas Bird Count

Pine Grosbeak 

The Cook Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, Jan 3rd. That is when quite a few hardy souls from the area got together and counted all the birds seen within a designated 15 mile circle.

In 2008/09 the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) count could be held anytime between the dates of December 14th to Jan 5th. The coordinator of the Cook CBC mapped out the area and assigned routes to birders. Some people used cars to drive around their designated area while other folks watched their feeders and counted the birds that visited. Later the participants gathered at a potluck dinner to share their observations and network with friends and neighbors.

Final results will be published in the Voyageur Sentinel this weekend.

Except for the flat tire my birding partner experienced, the day started out fairly well. The temps were above zero and the winds calm. We were under a “winter storm warning”, but the snow hadn’t started yet.

I found a nice flock of Snow Buntings, about 30 of them, and we found lots of Pine Grosbeaks. No big time rarities were found by us, but the Jacobsons of Lake Vermilion, who are also the coordinators of the count, are still hosting a rare bird, the Varied Thrush, at their home feeders. That is a good bird and one that Cook, MN should be proud to be able to add to the Cook Christmas Bird Count!

At noon, just as predicted by the weather forecasters, the snow began in earnest. We decided to call it a day, the snow was collecting and freezing on the windshield of my car, and visibility was being limited by the heavy snowfall. The birds, as well, seeked shelter from the frozen parcipitation and hunkered down. It is a hard life that they eek out in this frozen northland, but their amazing little bodies can handle it, and they sure brighten the days of many folks that live up here.

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) has an interesting history. It started out many, many years ago as the Christmas Bird Hunt. It was a contest in which the person that shot the most birds on Christmas day won. Times have changed and now the count is only of live birds, and it is of significant scientific interest. The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 and was the idea of Frank Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Later in 1905, the National Association of Audubon Societies was incorporated and took over the CBC. The CBC started out with only 27 participants, but now over 50,000 people participate from over 2000 locations. The areas covered in this day and age include Canada all the way south to locations in the Caribbean and South America.


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