Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Seniors help count birds for project

Residents' observations part of national event

By Sarah Buehrle
Enquirer Contributor

        FLORENCE — It was a science project that spanned the continent and Northern Kentucky provided its own citizen scientists for the observation team.

        Twenty Kentucky seniors helped the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology during the Fifth Annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), earning their wings as next-generation John Audubons.

        The bird count, which was held nationwide Feb. 15-18, is designed to build a continent-wide index to help researchers count bird populations and track winter migrations. It is open to both amateurs and experts. Organized locally by Senior Services of Northern Kentucky, the local watchers gathered at the Boone County Senior Center to practice for the weekend-long bird count project.

        Matthew McKown, assistant director of citizen science projects for the Audubon Society, said the bird watches are important.. “I think they're valuable and their value will only increase with time,” Mr. McKown said.

        “If we get this participation over the next 10 years, we'll have quite a record of what goes on.” More than 100,000 people have participated in the project.

        Last year the GBBC received 57,000 checklists, which came from every U.S. state and Canadian province. Mr. McKown said that in 2000, more than 40 percent of those who submitted checklists were 50 or older.

        They watched bird feeders from indoors and used guidebooks to identify the birds they spotted. The seniors were given checklist sheets to continue the project and are reporting their findings to the Audubon Society at the Boone County Senior Center via the Internet.

        Tracy Wiggins, 78, said she was raised in the country and knows a lot about birds. She has her own feeders and wants to help bird conservation. “I just love nature and the things of God, his animals,” Ms. Wiggins said.

        Sonya Turner, Senior Services volunteer coordinator, said that the bird watch is good for seniors who may not be very mobile.

        “I've been real sick and I sit in my room and watch the birds,” said Bertha Broaddus, who has spotted turkey vultures and a blue heron at her lakeside home in Burlington.

        Ms. Broaddus, 84, said that she just likes birds and thinks the information she and others provide will be valuable.

        Ms. Turner said Senior Services intends to expand similar programs to other Kentucky senior centers. The GBBC, used in conjunction with two other bird counts, asks for 30 minutes of bird watching a day, but participants do not need to take part all four days.

        John James Audubon, famed 19th-century naturalist and illustrator of birds, lived part of his life in Louisville and Henderson. He moved to Ohio in 1819, working as a taxidermist for Daniel Drake's Western Museum in Cincinnati, later moving to Louisiana.

        For more information, visit www.birdsource.org.


Police agree to make changes in procedures
City's response to Justice Department recommendations
Complete text of police department response
Profiling: All parties agree to keep talking
Hyundai narrows plant choices
4 Lebanon jobs may be downsized
Olympic group to return more funds
Snow news is bad news
Township looks to install sewers
UC adds budget cry to cow-calling chorus
RADEL: Marge Schott
Some Good News
Ashes, wind spark blaze
Republicans will run in all 99 districts
Skateboarding festival will boost region's image, county told
Vacationing juror will serve jail time
Campaign theme: Disabled belong
House approves power-plant bill
Larger state funding sought
Lawmakers, racetracks still mum over gambling proposal
Math students learn online
Newport Promenade development draws critics
Nurse indicted on cocaine charge
Ohio Hispanic commission meeting here
- Seniors help count birds for project
Speed focus in fatal I-75 crash trial
Tristate A.M. Report