If you’ve been looking to implement a winter holiday tradition in your life that affirms positive values without being tied to any particular sectarian ritual, you might want to consider participating in the Christmas Bird Count, conducted in this neck of the woods under the auspices of the John Burroughs Natural History Society. Not only is it the longest-running citizen science effort in the world – thereby qualifying as “traditional” – but it’s also a compelling reason to spend a full day out-of-doors in wintertime, properly bundled up to experience the natural world at its own pace. Watching for birds will slow your heartbeat, lower your blood pressure, sharpen your observational skills, get you more in tune with the Earth’s eternal rhythms. You also get to hang out with bird nerds: fascinating people from wildly differing backgrounds who share a common obsession with those odd, colorful creatures, the dinosaurs’ lasting legacy.
You don’t need to be an expert at identifying bird species to participate in the count. Unless you opt for watching your own backyard feeder all day, you’ll be part of a team of varying levels of birding experience, armed with guidebooks and checklists. This year, Steve Chorvas will organize the teams in the NYML (Mohonk Lake/Ashokan Reservoir) “count circle” on Saturday, December 17. Teams will get together afterward at the stone building at Kingston’s Hasbrouck Park to compile the data that they’ve collected. Sign up by December 10 by calling (845) 246-5900 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A second count, focused on the NYUD (Ulster/Dutchess) count circle, will set forth on Wednesday, December 28. Contact Peter Schoenberger at (914) 466-2707 or email@example.com or Mark DeDea at (845) 339-1277 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get your assignment and all necessary details. Once again, all the participating teams will converge at Hasbrouck Park afterwards.