Christmas bird-counting season starts next week

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

The annual Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge Christmas Bird Count kicks off a series of holiday bird counts when participants head for the wilds Monday morning.

"Early bird" counters will meet at Cypress Creek office at the Shawnee Community College campus at 6 a.m. Monday for maps, information sheets, routes and bird lists.

"We're looking for a good year of counting," said Jean Hinkle at Cypress Creek. "We hope to see more than 100 species again this year."

Two years ago, counters established a record Cypress Creek count of 102 species.

The long-term benefit of the count is a record of how the distribution of species and their populations change over the years, said Bill Eddleman, a member of the Four Season's Audubon Society in Cape Girardeau. The data is also of importance to biologists and environmentalists who wish to monitor the changes that occur on the local, regional or national level.

Birders of all skill levels are welcome for the count, Hinkle said. Participants are urged to dress for the weather, bring a lunch, binoculars and a bird identification book.

Bird counters are anticipating a busy schedule in December with several counting events in Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri:

Dec. 17: Cypress Creek Refuge, meet at Shawnee Community College.

Dec. 18: Big Oak Tree Park and 10-mile Pond Conservation Area, near East Prairie, Mo.

Dec. 21: Union County, Dec. 21, at Routes 146 and 3, near Ware, Ill.

Dec. 22: Horseshoe Lake Refuge, near Olive Branch, meet at triangular parking lot at intersection of Route 3 and Miller City Road.

Dec. 29: Mingo Wildlife Refuge, meet at Puxico, Mo.

Dec. 31: Mermet Lake, near Metropolis, Ill.

Birds were everywhere during the annual Christmas counts last year, said Eddleman.

The Cape Girardeau Aud-ubon chapter participates in four Christmas bird counts each year -- two each in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois, he said.

rowen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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