COOS COUNTY — Over the weekend, dozens of bird enthusiasts spread out all over the Coquille Valley to participate in the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count.
The local chapter for Coos County, the Cape Arago Audubon Society once again organized the event Saturday, calling on volunteers and club members to take part in the annual bird count.
A great blue heron perches atop a piling Saturday, Jan. 4, on the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.
Lead compiler and Cape Arago Audubon President Harv Schubothe of Bandon said this year the group split into 12 teams to count and identify as many birds as they could within the Coquille Valley.
On Saturday, the teams spread out across a 15-mile diameter circle to cover as much of the area as possible. Folks traveled from all over Oregon to take part in the count, as Schubothe’s team, which focused on the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, consisted of volunteers from as far away as Ashland, Brookings, Eugene and Lakeside.
The teams used a mobile app known as “eBird,” an electronic recording system, to track and count the birds. The information gathered from the count will go toward a national database which is used to track changes in bird populations as well as to see if certain bird species are increasing or declining.
The count is an annual tradition, which has been around nationally for more than 100 years. The local Audubon Society has participated in the event for about 23 years.
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Schubothe, who has organized the local count since 2007, said he first got involved because he simply enjoys birding.
“I caught the bug when I was right out of college,” said Schubothe." I went to Africa and it was just amazing all the different bird species I saw .... I really appreciated seeing all the different cultures and (how) they respected the birds and how the birds fit into their culture. It’s kind of what attracted me to birding.”
Cape Arago Audubon President Harv Schubothe, right, and other volunteers use spotting scopes to count birds Saturday, Jan. 4, in Bandon.
This year, the local chapter counted over 35,000 birds throughout the Coquille Valley. About 150 different bird species were recorded Saturday as approximately 44 people participated in the count.
According to Schubothe, the number of distinct bird species counted over the weekend was by far the largest number seen in any count in Oregon this year.
It's also the third year in a row that this circle has provided the highest count in the state, he said.