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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
December 19, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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December 19, 2012

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6C Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Plumas Audubon participates in nationwide count James Wilson Sports Reporter For the ll3th year, the Audubon Society held its Christmas Bird Count. All over the nation groups of bird lovers make this event part of their families' tradi- tions. The Plumas Audubon Soci- ety is no exception, as was evident last weekend when counts were made in Sierra Valley, American Valley and at Lake Almanor. The Christmas Bird Count started back in 1900 when Frank Chapman, an Audubon Society member, organized an annual census of birds to better understand birds' migration habits. Before Chapman proposed this idea, the tradition was to see how many birds could be hunted. The team with the biggest pile of carcasses won. Since 1900, the tradition has been more for research purposes. Studying birds is a great way to gauge the condition of the earth. Since birds travel so extensively their behavior can be used as the earth's barometer. By compiling information yearly for the last 113 years, the Audubon Society can look at the changes to detect patterns and breaks in pat- terns. This can point to big- ger problems involving the environment. Colin Dillingham coordi- nated a count in Sierra Val- ley on Dec. 14. The following day a count in American Val- ley was made, coordinated by Darrel Jury. The final Plumas County count was done at Lake Almanor on Dec. 17, coordinated by Ryan Burnett. This was the fifth year the Plumas Audubon society con- ducted a count. The first two years were unofficial counts, however. Participants were limited to a circular area with a 7.5- mile radiuscentered on a key area. Each participant listed every bird they saw or heard. The goal was to see how many species live in Plumas County along with how many birds are here, in general, this year. Early in the morning Dec. 15, 21 citizen scientists met at Dunn's Coffee, where Ju- ry divided them into five groups. Each team was given a section to cover. All the sections combined stretched from Thompson Valley to the hot springs down High- way 70. The courthouse was the center point for the count. "We had a great turnout," said Darla DeRuiter. "I think this was the largest turnout we've had in the five years we've been doing this." Teams worked until night- fall counting birds. Jury col- lected the results and com- piled them with DeRuiter to send off to the national Audubon Society. The society counted 89 species: the most seen in American Valley during the annual count so far. A cou- ple unusual species to be present in Plumas County this time of year spotted were the peregrine falcon and northern mockingbird. "Things are always chang- ing in the bird world and natural world in general," said DeRuiter on seeing the unusual species. "That's one of the good aspects of this count. It makes us pay atten- tion to phenological changes." Ninety-five red-tailed hawks were spotted along with 223 snow geese. Snow geese live up in the arctic during spring and summer to breed, and migrate down to the Central Valley for the winters. Annually the species fly over Plumas County, often stopping by for a day or two. The birders counted four species of owls: barn owls, great horned owls, northern pigmy owls and barred owls. Other than the barred owl, the others were spotted dur- ing daylight. Steller's jays, ubiquitous in Plumas County, were plentiful with a total count of 221. Often overlooked due to their common presence here in the county, the Steller's jays are one of the most intelligent birds. They also have the largest reper- toire of vocalization. "We need to have an ap- preciation for the Steller's jay," commented DeRuiter, "They're extremely adapt- able. Plus they're beautiful with that dark crest on its head, and gorgeous blue feathers." Those interested in becom- ing involved in the Audubon Society can go to or call David Arsenault at 283-0455. Christmas Bird Count coordinator Darrel Jury breaks participants up into groups to cover American Valley, with Colin Dillingham listening in. The birders continued the 113-year tradition of taking a bird census every year around Christmas. Photos by James Wilson Floyd A. 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Birders count the species and number of birds they see Dec. 15 near the bridge at Gansner Park. From left: River Arsenault, Janet Swirhun, Leslie Mink and Plumas Audubon Society-president David Arsenault. HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE COMFORT CARE AT HOME Tahoe Forest Hospice and Palliative Care is a specialized program that provides pain management, symptom controL, p sychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families. Hospice and Palliative care combine the highest level of quality medical =: care, and may make a profound difference to maximize the quality of life and bring comfort to anyone facing a serious illness.