The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 23, 2012

Christmas count under way: Local volunteers look forward to their part in annual bird survey

— It’s been going on for 112 years and this year is no exception.

The annual Christmas Bird Count, a survey to identify and count birds across North American started Dec. 14 and continues through Jan. 5.

“Doing the bird count is great fun. Doing all of the paperwork is not so much fun,” said Jeff Payne, the Cambria-Somerset count leader for the annual count spearheaded by the National Audubon Society.

Payne, who lives in Allegheny Township, Somerset County, has been counting birds during the annual survey since the mid-1980’s. He said it provides a great time to be out in the winter woods, but does much more.

“Thousands of counts are done during the count and it can show long-term trends in birds,” Payne said.

A local group of bird-watchers, known as the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society, did their part for the count on Dec. 16. They started at 6 a.m. and stayed out until dusk.

The focus was a 71/2 mile area from Johnstown to Indian Lake in Somerset County, with 23 volunteers in eight crews spreading out to cover the circle.

The count always provides some surprises, he said, with some birds all but disappearing from the Cambria-Somerset region through the years and formerly hard to find birds now showing up in abundance.

One of the big surprises this year was the spotting of a parasitic jaeger, a species that pleasures itself in harassing other birds, especially during the winter when food is scarce.

“It’s the first time we ever saw that species in Somerset County,” Payne said. “They nest in the Arctic and winter at sea.

The Christmas bird count is the longest-running citizen science survey, relying on tens of thousands of volunteers to document what might be flying over and stopping in for a rest, spending the winter or making  a late exit south.

The goal is to cover and report bird activity in as much of North America as possible.

The information from each count is reported to the national Audubon group, which analyzes the data and studies trends.

While the region has seen a few cold days and a little bit of snow, the weather has remained relatively warm through November and December, impacting on the number and species of birds recorded, a bird watcher from the Patton area.

Dave Gobert, who terms himself a year round birder and counter who keeps an eye on the Cambria-Clearfield area, said he is seeing fewer birds than he normally does a week before Christmas, largely due to the weather.

“It’s because of the warm weather,” he said. “It takes cooler weather to bring the northern birds into his area.”

While temperatures are key, one of the greatest impacts on birds this year may be tropical storm Sandy, Gobert said.

Gobert, who keeps a close watch on Glendale Lake in Prince Gallitzin State Park, said he is seeing more waterfowl than he has for years.

“I’m seeing a lot of good waterfowl at Prince Gallitzin because of Sandy,” he said.

“Storm birds,” as they are being called, put down before a big storm hits and sometimes stay in an area for a while, Gobert said.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • foust_25 Teen shot in Oakhurst

    A 16-year-old New Jersey boy was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Thursday after being shot three times in the Oakhurst section of Johnstown.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Audit: City overspent by $700G in 2013

    Legacy costs contributed significantly to the city of Johnstown coming up $689,000 short in its core services funding during 2013.

    July 24, 2014

  • Kuzma, jonathan Guilty plea in hammer death

    The Johnstown man who authorities said killed his father with a hammer last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal homicide, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • quecreek rescue Events to mark anniversary of Quecreek rescue

    When word spread that nine Quecreek miners were trapped underground in July 2002, Bill Arnold’s dairy farm quickly became the rescue effort’s ground zero.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Huger, Stephen Accused Hornerstown shooter will stand trial

    A Johnstown man will stand trial in connection with a July 12 shooting in the Hornerstown section of the city.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tribune Treasure!

    July 25, 2014

  • Board names Zahorchak’s successor

    The Greater Johnstown school board at a special meeting Thursday named a superintendent to replace the retiring superintendent, rehired its last business manager and approved other administrative appointments.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pasquerilla, Mark Pasquerilla recognized as arts patron

    First lady Susan Corbett announced Thursday from the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pa., that Mark Pasquerilla of Johnstown has earned the Patron Award from the 2014 Governor’s Awards for the Arts.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ebensburg gets ready to party

    Party down with a shutdown.
    Downtown Shutdown, a street party featuring music and food, will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday in downtown Ebensburg.

    July 24, 2014

  • ROTARY Local Rotary Club earns recognition

    The Rotary Club of Johnstown was named Outstanding Large Club of the Year in District 7330, which serves 42 Rotary Clubs in seven counties in southwest Pennsylvania, at the Rotary District 7330 and District 7300 Joint Conference that was held June 26 through 29 at Seven Springs Mountain Resort.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
House Ads