[wisb] Re: Counting Bohemian Waxwings

Hi All -
I'm guessing my earlier report of Bohemians seen while shoveling snow
brought this topic to the fore. When I see a flock, I first estimate, since
who knows how long they'll be in that particular spot. Then I estimate
systematically - by groups of 5 or 10 or 50 or whatever. Then, if they're
still around I'll count them one by one or in small groups. And then I count
them again.
I too have noticed that my initial estimates tend to be low. And I've gotten
a sense of how far off I'm likely to be. So I adjust my initial estimate
accordingly. In years when I see them often or see the same flocks
repeatedly, my estimating gets more accurate. I get a sense of how many the
flock I'm seeing is.

My observation of the flock I saw this morning was so brief  I only had time
for the first estimate. The difference in estimate and reality stands for
birds in flight and in trees. Ever been watching a group feeding then they
fly off and 2 or 3 more flocks appear to join them that you didn't even know
were there? I love it!

Nancy Richmond
Polar Langlade co and Rhinelander Oneida co.

On Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 3:06 PM, Ryan Brady <ryanbrady10@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> Hi folks, this is more a cautionary heads-up than anything else but with
> all the Bohemian Waxwing reports of 100, 250, 300 birds etc. and plenty more
> to be seen yet this winter and spring I'm curious as to whether folks are
> making actual counts, systematic estimates, or gross estimates of overall
> flock size?  In my experience, birders (myself included) vastly
> underestimate flock size in this species, often upwards of 40-70%, i.e. a
> flock estimated at 100 often has 140-170+ birds.  Don't ask me why but
> without alot of experience it's very difficult to correctly gauge numbers of
> this species without actually counting, or at least more systematically
> estimating (e.g. 5, 10, 20 birds at a time).  So I challenge you the next
> time you're up north to first estimate flock size as we often do and then
> make an actual count.  My money says there will be far more birds than you
> thought!
>
>
> Ryan Brady
> Washburn, Bayfield County, WI
> http://www.pbase.com/rbrady
>
>
>
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