[wisb] CBC discussion so far

  • From: Peter Fissel <pfissel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Wisconsin Birding Network <wisbirdn@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2011 07:47:42 -0600

I've been sort of biting my tongue (unusual for me, I know), because I wanted 
to see where this would go on its own.  I think Andy's post in particular 
summed up my feelings pretty well.  While I felt Chris did make some valid 
points, I was extremely disappointed about how he expressed them.  There is 
never call to attack someone just because you disagree with them (our partisan 
political climate not withstanding.) 
As many of you know, I usually do quite a few CBCs every year, but I came to it 
late.  For whatever reason, I never did one until about five or six years ago.  
It quickly became sort of addictive, and I was up to nine of them last year, 
spread throughout the period.  Yes, you get some "better" birds on the counts 
earlier in the period, and simple demographics account for the larger counts 
having many more participants (more available people = more volunteers.)  And 
yes, it is harder to get folks to commit on a Sunday (especially during 
football season.)  Having the two major holidays on the weekends this year will 
hurt participation, there's no question about that.  Next year will be better 
(due to leap year, the holidays will be on Mon/Tues.)  And the major counts 
almost are forced to pick a weekend, due to so many participants having to work 
(which is my case this year - due to retirements, I'm the only one left in my 
department, hence I'll be doing fewer CBCs than usual.) 
I'd also like to point out that the major urban center counts NEED more 
participants, since most of what you're doing is looking for bird feeders in 
yards.  My Madison CBC section is much smaller than any of my other count 
sections, but it's virtually all walking (usually 6-8 miles, depending on how 
much help I can find.)  It seems counterintuitive to be looking for more help 
on a count that has the highest participation rate in the state (I believe even 
higher than Milwaukees',) but I actually need more counters this year on my 
section (especially since my balky knee may preclude me from doing very much of 
it.)   A rural count with very few roads and not much public land can easily be 
adequately covered by 5-6 parties, although it's always preferable to have at 
least two people per party.  I've been doing the Waterloo count for several 
years now, and my overall numbers more than doubled when Jim "Hawkeye" Schwarz 
joined me (granted, he is an exceptional spotter, but even a less-keen extra 
pair of eyes can greatly increase your party efficiency.)
SO, if you're at all on the fence about doing a count, I'd urge you to try it.  
You don't have to be an "expert" birder - you're probably going to be talking 
about 25-30 species.  Yes, you may get some ID challenges, but that's the fun 
part!  There is no penalty for not being sure about a bird or two - mark it 
down with a question mark and write down some descriptive notes as best you can 
(or better yet, take a photo!)  And if you're still a little intimidated, you 
can often be matched up with a more experienced birder/counter who will 
probably be happy to have the extra spotter along (I know I would, and I may 
need a driver this year on some of my counts... backchannel me if interested 
and we'll talk.) 
Now, let's keep it clean, and get back to birding.  Gotta be still more 
rarities out there... here's hoping the King Eider stuck around overnight. 
Peter Fissel 
Wisbirdn Monitor Guy & addicted CBCer 
Madison WI 
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  • » [wisb] CBC discussion so far - Peter Fissel