The Odessa Record -

By Drew Lawson
The Times 

Start the count: Area bird counting options this month


Last updated 12/10/2020 at 1:44pm

Drew Lawson | The Times

Geese are plentiful and easily spotted in the Lincoln County area this time of year.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Grand Coulee count, which is discussed in this week's print issue, is cancelled this year. The cancellation was reported to The Times after press time.

Reardan – Dec. 14 marks the start of Audubon National Society's 121st Annual Christmas Bird Count, when veteran and beginner bird-counters alike gather on a specified date to gather in their area and spend the day counting birds. The counting season runs to Jan. 5, as it does every year.

The closest bird counts marked on Audubon's website this year are in Spokane and Cheney.

Spokane's count occurs Jan. 2. The compiler is Alan McCoy.

"The area includes the confluence of the Little Spokane and Spokane Rivers, Wild Rose Prairie, Peone Prairie, Dishman Hills, the South Hill, and Riverside State Park," McCoy says on the website. "We generally start around 7:15 am and go until about 4:30 pm. Although some participants only do a half day, most like to go all day. Feeder watchers located within the circle are welcome too."

Cheney's listed compiler is Sandy Schreven. She said the Cheney count is taking place Dec. 19.

"It is a bit more challenging with COVID restrictions," Schreven said. "We aren't able to include new volunteers as much but we have made adjustments and hope to still have a great count."

Each count occurs within a 15-mile wide diameter circle. Both species and total birds are tallied during the count.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each count may be restricted or cancelled at any time, Audubon's website warns. Those interested in a count can find complier's contact information on the Audubon website. There is no cost to participate in an Audubon bird count.

There is no online registration. Interested participants are asked to email compilers for information regarding local counts.

No current count is scheduled for Lincoln County, but Audubon's website makes it clear that added counts are possible if they are approved in time.

Audubon collects the data from counts around the country and uses it for researching local and national birding trends, both within individual species and overall.

Those in Lincoln County who don't want to make the trek for a bird count, but still want to find a spot to view waterfowl and small flying friends alike can visit Reardan's Audubon Lake, a 277-acre area of wetlands, grasslands and channeled scablands just north of town.

Visitors can take Highway 231 about two miles and turn right onto Euclid Road. The turn to the viewing area is marked by a sign. Drive down about a mile on a gravel road, and the parking lot becomes clear on the right. A Discover Pass is required.

A birding blind is accessible down a paved path about a quarter mile. The walk is periodically marked by signs informing of the area's flora and fauna.

Drew Lawson | The Times

The birding blind provides a look south onto Reardan Audubon Lake. During this time of year, hundreds of Canada geese can be seen congregating on the partially frozen wetlands. If they sense movement in the grass, they may take to the skies in a loud, A glimpse of pheasant and a swooping Harris's hawk may also be spotted.

Waterfowl that frequent the lake include the aforementioned Canada goose, as well as the tundra swan. Shorebirds include the least sandpiper and white-rumped sandpiper. Raptors include American kestrels and northern harriers. One could identify each species' gender by noticing colors of the bird, which are more prominent in males.

Grasses native to Eastern Washington are also found at Reardan Audubon Lake, including bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, Sandberg bluegrass and prairie junegrass.

Author Bio

Drew Lawson, Reporter

Drew Lawson is a reporter and sports writer for Free Press Publishing, including the Cheney Free Press and Davenport Times. He is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.

Phone: 15092356184


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