Siouxlanders participate in Christmas Bird Count - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxlanders participate in Christmas Bird Count

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Siouxlanders spent some time outdoors counting birds this holiday season. Siouxlanders spent some time outdoors counting birds this holiday season.
SALIX, Iowa (KTIV) -
The Christmas season isn't just a time for giving gifts.

It's also when bird lovers flock to the great outdoors, braving the cold to help the National Audubon Society with the longest-running wildlife census: counting birds.

These men wear bright orange vests and always keep their eyes open. 

But they're not hunters. 

On this day, they're participating in a Christmas Bird Count.

"They do inventories of the birds, and they can compare them from year to year, from place to place," said bird counter Jerry Probst.

"They" are the National Audubon Society, which tabulates the results from bird counts across the country. It's a good barometer of what kinds of birds are native to an area and how the ornithological makeup has changed in places like Sioux City.

"The most common species are water fowl - Canada geese and mallards," said Probst. "There's new birds that show up that weren't seen, such as European collared doves and house finches that we never had before."

If it sounds like Probst knows his stuff, it's because he does. He runs Sioux City's count. But volunteers are welcome, regardless of expertise. In total, about 30 people are involved in this year's Christmas Bird Count, which covers a 15-mile diameter circle.

With all the different groups counting birds in the area, Probst says they're hoping to gather at least 50 different bird species. But when it comes to counting birds, patience is a virtue, especially on cold days.

"We went owling this morning for an hour and a half and found one owl, which we were rather disappointed in," said Probst. "But then we started out and got quite a few hawks first thing." 

Meaning bird counting can be very hit-or-miss.

"You're searching, and you never know what you're going to find," added Probst.

Which means the treasure hunt continues.

This was the 114th year that the Christmas Bird Count was held.
    
Probst says count numbers can fluctuate based on weather, sight and noise factors.
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