Founded in 1904

Affiliated with the National Audubon Society

Our Mission: To bring the excitement of birds to our community through birding, education and the conservation of bird habitats

Pasadena / San Gabriel Valley Christmas Count 2017

As things slow down following a remarkable fall migration, thoughts begin turn to the holidays and to Christmas Bird Counts. How convenient it is that we have our own local count supported by Pasadena Audubon. The Pasadena CBC is a long running count and many dedicated local birders have been instrumental in making the Pasadena count what it is today. As the count began in 1946, this year marks its 71st anniversary.

If you're new to birding or just to Christmas Bird Counts, this is a great opportunity to learn more about the avifauna of the San Gabriel Valley and to meet others who share the same interests. You’ll also be participating in a very worthwhile citizen science project.

On count day we'll record every species­ whether native and introduced­ and ultimately document population trends over years and decades. The mid­December CBC produces a snapshot of early winter birdlife in the San Gabriel Valley and local foothills. Over 280 different species have been recorded over the history of the count and the data from every count resides in the Audubon CBC database and is available to everyone.

Though some things have stayed pretty much the same over the years, there have been noticeable changes. Great­tailed Grackles colonized the area in the 1980s, while introduced Eurasian Collared­Doves have increased dramatically in numbers more recently. Anyone who lives in the San Gabriel Valley is aware of our noisy flocks of parrots and parakeets, but the introduction of these exotics didn’t occur until the 1970s.

On the other hand, we've seen declines in the numbers of open country birds such as Loggerhead Shrikes, Western Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows. In addition to those changes, each year is different in subtle or major ways. To me this is what makes the CBC so intriguing.

The center of our count is the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Duarte Road. The territory covered extends seven and one half miles in every direction from that spot to create the standard fifteen mile diameter count circle.

The northern border of the circle just reaches the top of Mt. Wilson at 5,700 feet, offering the potential for mountain birds. Williamson’s Sapsuckers and Cassin’s Finches have been recorded here. This variety of habitats produces well over 150 species on each count.

Adding diversity to the count are count areas such as Big Santa Anita Canyon, the extensive Whittier Narrows area, Henninger Flat, the San Gabriel River, Peck Road Water Conservation Park, Eaton Canyon, the Huntington Gardens, the Arboretum and a portion of Santa Fe Dam.

Well­ established plantings in residential areas have also proved productive in the past, producing count records of Black­throated Green Warbler, Black­throated Blue Warbler and others. It's clear that good birds can turn up almost anywhere.

The 2017 Christmas Bird Count will take place on Saturday, December 16. We’ll have the traditional pre­count meeting at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center on Wednesday, December 13 at 7:30pm. At the meeting we'll also review count rules and procedures and assign count areas. If you can’t attend the meeting, you can sign up for an area to count via e­mail.

The post­count dinner and wrap­up will be on count night. Not only will we have a good dinner after a long day of counting, but we’ll find out what birds turned up that day.

For additional information, contact count coordinator Jon Fisher at JonF60@hotmail.com.

(Article written by Jon Fisher)