NEW MEXICO NORTH AMERICAN MIGRATION COUNT FINDS A HOME!

- Steve West

Birding is a great hobby, a great opportunity for health and recreations and a good way to keep an eye on how the world is changing around us. We visit our regular spots, do Christmas Counts, do Breeding Bird Surveys, visit places we’ve never been before and sometimes just wander about aimlessly.

 

For over 115 years birders have participated in Christmas Counts, a 7.5 mile circle, surveyed in the area around Christmas to check on wintering bird populations.  While this is an exciting time, other periods of the year are left out. Back in 1994, Jim Staz of North Beach, Maryland, wrote to a number of birders from around the country and were asked to participate in a spring count, held on the second Saturday in May all across the country and defined by county borders and not a 7.5 mile circle. The count is called the North American Migration Count (NABC). I wrote to Jim and he told us to go ahead in Eddy County. He also said they would need a state compiler to compile all the counts in the state and forward the results to him. I volunteered as long as no one else wanted to do it. And here I am!

 

These counts are one more tool that is used to monitor bird populations across the nation. Since all the counts occur on a single day, there is less duplication.

And except for eBird, there is no other way to compile this information on a given day in spring. Having these numbers is one more way to determine how birds are doing on their spring migration north and is more up to date on their status at that time.

 

That first year there were only 3 counts, Eddy, Grant, and McKinley. The second year we had 5 counts (Bernalillo, Chaves, Eddy, Grant and San Juan) and it continued to grow. Over the years word of the effort spread and many years we had upwards of 20 counties participating. The New Mexico Ornithological Society ran the counts for a number of years (1993-2005) but stopped after the 2004 counts because the results took up most of the NMOS Bulletin and there were questions about some of the birds seen and reported. I would forward the results to NMOS and would also question compilers if they reported something unusual. Since then, I have sent the original master list to all county compilers so they could send it out to the people who participated in their count. But we needed a home!

 

Bold Visions has agreed to host our annual results. Attached are the results for the 2015 season. In 2015 we were active in 12 counties from San Juan to Lea and Hidalgo to San Miguel. We found a total of 290 species, a bit lower than previous days where we found in the low 300’s.

 

Since 2004 we have suffered the loss of a number of counts because it doesn’t appear in a written format that people can look at and also eBird. There is a place for a state-wide compilation of all birds seen on count day and Bold Visions has stepped forward to host our efforts. I am sure we will grow from here.

 

Please enjoy the results of the efforts of over 200 birders from around the state who surveyed birds on a given day in spring migration! And if you are interested in participating in a spring 2016 count (on May 14) please contact your local bird community or email me at wthrswift@gmail.com and I’ll put you in touch with them. Good birding!