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A national snapshot will be taken May 9-10.
SUGAR ADDICT: The annual Spring North American Migration Count, conducted nationally since 1992, is traditionally the second weekend of May because this is when neotropical birds like hummingbirds are at the peak of their migration movement. Hummingbirds, like this rufous male, have just entered the Grande Ronde Valley. It's time to clean and fill up your feeders. Rather than use the commercial nectars, with the unnecessary red dye, simply heat up a solution of four parts water with one part sugar. Let the mixture cool after the sugar has dissolved. Scarlet monarda, a garden perennial, is very attractive to hummingbirds. For free plants, call 963-6977. Photo/JIM WARD
It is a “photo’’ that bird watchers throughout Union and Wallowa counties will have a chance to bring into sharper focus.
The picture will be provided by the annual Spring North American Migration Count. The count is meant to provide a snapshot on the status of birds at a point of time in North America.Locally, birders in Union and Wallowa counties will be able to participate in the counts.The Spring North American Count will be conducted May 9 in Union County and May 10 in Wallowa County.
The count, conducted nationally since 1992, is traditionally the second weekend of May because this is when neotropical birds like warblers and hummingbirds are at the peak of their migration movement but still in places where many birders can see them. It is important to note that the count is for all birds, not just those which are migratory.
The second weekend of May is an ideal time to be watching for birds in Northeast Oregon, said Trent Bray of the Grande Ronde Bird Club.
“You could see 120 different species. It has been done before (in mid-May),’’ Bray said.
Numerous birds are here at that time. Many that wintered in the region are just leaving on their spring migration, ones migrating here to nest are arriving and other birds in the middle of their spring migration are passing through. The only other time when there are an equal number of birds in Union and Wallowa counties is in mid-autumn, said Bray, owner of the Bobolink, a birding supply store.
The migration count event resembles in many ways the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, which has been conducted for more than a century and for decades in Union and Wallowa counties.
The Spring North American Migration County has at least two twists that make it different from the Christmas Bird Count:
• the count area is an entire county, not the 15-mile diameter circles used in the Christmas Bird Count.
• the migration count can be conducted only on one day during the second weekend of May. The Christmas Bird Count can be conducted on any one day during an approximately three-week period set by the National Audubon Society.
The intent of the spring migration count is similar to the count conducted at Christmas time:
• to obtain information on the abundance and distribution of each species.
• get more people interested and participating in birding.
• aid in the organization and centralization of information about birds.
Birders participating in the count should don orange day-glow vests if they will be where turkey hunters are. This is because turkey season started April 15 and runs through May 31. People in forests run the risk of being mistaken for turkeys by hunters if they are not careful.
Birders should also avoid wearing clothing associated with turkeys — red, white and blue.
Birders participating in the migration count are encouraged to keep track of how many hours they are counting and other details such as whether birds were spotted at feeders or in the forest.
Individuals participating should notify directors in Union and Wallowa counties where they will be counting. This will allow directors to make sure that people are not counting in the same areas to prevent birds from being counted twice.
Birders taking part should record where they counted, how long they counted, how many species they observed and how many total birds they saw, Nowak said.
All count statistics will later be sent by to Jim Stasz of North Beach, Md., the event’s national coordinator.