Wells Drug February
Petersburg Press

Beaver Valley Christmas bird count returns this year

For over 100 years, birders and other nature enthusiasts have participated in an annual winter tradition, the Christmas Bird Count, or CBC. From its simple beginning in 1900, the CBC has expanded to over 2500 locations across North America.
During the CBC, volunteers identify and count all of the birds they can find inside of a 15-mile-wide circle. By repeating these counts year after year in the same areas, scientists can learn more about how wintering bird populations change over time, such as whether certain species are increasing or decreasing in number or whether some birds are changing their wintering ranges over time.
On Dec. 29, 2018, volunteers will have an opportunity to join this long-running citizen science effort right here in Boone County. The Beaver Valley CBC was conducted almost every year between 1985 and 2013, but has been inactive for the past five years due to the previous count coordinators moving away from the area. A northeast Nebraska native, Jason Thiele, has volunteered to get it going again. Thiele is in search of volunteers to help him complete the count.
The center of the Beaver Valley CBC circle is located approximately four miles west and two miles south of Petersburg. The circle includes the towns of Raeville, Petersburg, and Loretto, as well as most of the farm and ranch country to the west. Because the count area is so large, multiple volunteers are necessary to search the many different habitats in the circle. According to Thiele, birders of all ages and skill levels are welcome to participate.
“Several experienced birders will be present to help rookies identify the birds that they see. Even if you’ve never tried birding before, the Christmas Bird Count is a great way to get started, because there are far fewer species of birds present in the winter than in other seasons. But you’ll still see more birds than you’d expect,” Thiele said.
Depending on the weather, people’s physical abilities and time availability, a CBC generally involves a mix of driving and walking to find birds. Even people who live within the circle and feed birds at their homes can participate by signing up as a “feeder watcher,” counting the birds that come to their feeders. Anyone interested in participating in the count, or even just learning more about it, should contact Jason Thiele, 402-750-0660, or by email (jasonthiele@hotmail.com). Thiele also advises people who live within the circle not to be alarmed if they see someone driving slowly or pulled over on the side of the road on Dec. 29, as it’s most likely birders who are trying to mark down another species on our data sheet.