Audubon chapters prepare for bird counts

A male northern cardinal perches on a tree branch. (Photo by Jeffrey Hall)
From staff reports

Two area Audubon Society chapters are hoping that many of the region’s birds will stand up and be counted as they prepare for the 118th Christmas Bird count.

The Clarion bird count, organized by members of the Seneca Rocks Audubon Society, is scheduled for Sunday.

The Pleasantville bird count, coordinated by members of the Bartramian Audubon Society, will be held Sunday, Dec. 31.

The data collected from these and other Christmas bird counts is used by the Audubon Society and other organizations to aid in assessing the health of bird populations and to guide conservation action.

The counts take place within 15-mile diameter count circles.

There is no fee for participating in either of the counts.

Clarion count

The Clarion count circle has the Clarion railroad trestle as its center and includes Callensburg, Clarion, Curlsville, Knox, Marianne, Oak Grove, Reidsburg, Shippenville, Sligo and Strattanville.

This is the 31st year for the Clarion count.

The circle is divided into sections, with teams of counters assigned to each section. The count compiler – in this case longtime member Gary Edwards – coordinates the assignments based on individual preference and birding experience.

Edwards was hoping the weather would cooperate for this year’s count.

“If the weather is too good there is nothing driving them (the birds) to the feeders,” Edwards said.

He added in an earlier interview that there was still a lot of food out in the woodlands and forests for the birds to feed on.

He reported that there hadn’t been much activity on the waterfowl front either earlier this month.

Also if the weather is too good, the birds will be all spread out and won’t flock up which can make getting a good count more difficult, Edwards added.

People that live within the boundaries of the Clarion count circle have the option of staying at home and reporting the birds they see visiting their feeders.

Arrangements must be made with the feeder watch coordinator who is Seneca Rocks member Deb Freed.

Freed provided a description of the duties of feeder watchers.

Feeder watchers are tasked with counting the highest number of each species at they see at their feeder during the 24-hour period on Sunday.

Freed provides forms to those participating in the count.

She gave an explanation of just how feeder watchers should record their numbers in a letter mailed out to potential participants.

“If you are counting chickadees, for example, keep tract of the number at the feeder each time you check. Report the one time that had the highest number of chickadees,” Freed’s letter said.

“Let’s say you check six times during the day with counts of six, eight, 11, six, seven and nine. You would report 11 chickadees on the form,” the letter continued.

Freed’s informative letter also said that seven species can be counted separately as male and female.

Interested persons may see if they are within the count circle by visiting the Seneca Rocks website at www.seneca People may click on Go Birding, then choose Bird Counts, CBC and Map of Clarion County Circle.

Potential participants may contact Edwards at (814) 676-3011 or or Freed at (814) 226-4719.

Pleasantville count

The circle for the Pleasantville count encompasses the area approximately from Titusville in the northwest to Pleasantville to Tionesta in the northeast south to President east to Oleopolis and Rouseville and then north along the western edge of Oil Creek State Park.

The count is centered on the historic ghost town of Pithole.

This is the 52 year for the Pleasantville count.

The count has averaged about 3,000 individual birds of about 50 species for the last 20 years, according to Russ States, count compiler.

“As always, we hope for lots of birds, but it is nice when we get some winter visitors from the north,” States added.

“These are birds we don’t often see and are generally only present in the winter months,” he added.

States said some examples would be pine siskins, redpolls, evening grosbeaks, and snowy owls.

“We can always use feeder watchers, which would be someone willing to spend a little time recording what birds are at or around their feeders,” he said.

Feeder watchers must live within the count circle, which is a 15-mile diameter circle centered approximately in Pithole.

States said quick reference points would be east of approximately from Windy Hills south along Route 8 to the entrance of Oil Creek State Park and then west up through Rouseville through Plummer to Eagle Rock and President.

Anyone interested in participating may contact States at or (814) 676-6320.