Bird count set for May 5

The selected date for the Fayette County Spring Bird Count is Saturday, May 5.
Fayette County, along with the other 101 Illinois counties, will be participating in the 40th annual statewide Spring Bird Count that day.
The count is sponsored by the Illinois Audubon Society, Illinois Ornithological Society, Illinois Natural History Survey and other birding groups throughout the state.
The first count was taken on Saturday, May 6, 1972, and included more than 650 people in 62 counties. Since then, this annual event has grown to more than 1,600 observers in all 102 counties.
Up to 20 volunteers have helped in Fayette County in the past, but local organizers invite more local people to participate.
The Spring Bird Count itself is probably the biggest birding event of the year, and for some groups, it means weeks of advance preparation, planning and organization in an attempt to find, in just one day, the largest possible number of birds in the county.
For this count, local organizers will utilize the expertise of as many birders as possible; birders from neighboring states often participate in the count.
Birders are grouped into “parties,” and each party is challenged to identify all the birds they find in their designated portion of the county. There are no limits to the number of participants who may help with the bird count; last year, 18 counties fielded 20 or more participants; two had more than 100 participants.
There seems to be no limit, either, to the number of birds that spring bird counters can find within the boundaries of their counties.
With the onset of spring weather, the usual year-round residents are joined by the myriads of birds that have spent the winter months along the Gulf Coast, or in Central and South America.
Some species tend to concentrate around large lakes; therefore, those counties with lakes and reservoirs, especially large ones, often attract a wider variety of species than those counties without similar water habitats.
Lake and Cook counties have both reported 200 or more species on Spring Bird Count days in the past. Typically, though, the highest total for an individual county ranges from 180-190 species.
The cumulative total for all counties combined normally ranges from 255 to 265 species on count day.
Apart from its attraction as a social, sporting and competitive event, the annual Spring Bird Count sheds some light on the early spring distribution of the many species of Illinois’ native birds.
The results of this count are published each year in order to keep an ongoing record of Illinois’ changing avifauna.
Although the Spring Bird Count does not always occur on the same day as the International Migratory Bird Count, it does this year.
The Spring Bird Count is open to all individuals. For more information about the count in Fayette County, contact coordinator Kathy Stokes at 283-0329.
 

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