Put-in-Bay resident Lisa Brohl will be leading the effort Sunday on South Bass Island. Several birders will be joining her for the island’s bird count. Two birders also will fly to North Bass Island, and another count will be taking place on Kelleys Island.
Volunteers are welcomed for the annual bird count, particularly if you know enough to be able to recognize many. Less experienced volunteers are typically paired with experts, bird biologist Mark Shieldcastle says.
• Dec. 15: Lake Erie Islands. Lisa Brohl (for South Bass Island), 419-285-5811 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. John Pogacnik 440-259-2751 or email@example.com .
Brohl said she’ll be leading her band of birdwatchers from sunup to sundown, then adds, “We’ll be up even earlier, listening for owls”
The group will start at one end of South Bass Island and work its way to the other, she said.
Brohl is hoping to spot many tundra swans.
“Last week, we had about 200 in one location” Brohl said.
The bird counts have been taking place for more than 100 years. That gives a data set that allows scientists to follow trends in population of certain species, Brohl said.
Those trends become more clear over time, said Mark Shieldcastle, a bird biologist who will be leading the Fremont count.
Trends from just one year to the next can be misleading, he explained. For example, if water is frozen over on the day of the bird count, ducks will be scarce because they’ve gone south.
But some trends are clear. The Fremont count would spot 10 or 12 bald eagles 20 years ago, he said.
“Now, the potential is 60 or 70” he said. “When you have large changes over time, you can say the population is increasing or decreasing”
The count allows scientists to determine which areas a particular bird lives in, and can suggest areas for further research, Shieldcastle said.
It’s also a way to get people involved in caring about wildlife, he said.
“It increases the appreciation for the natural world,” he said. “That value gets overlooked quite often, but it should not be underestimated”