In just four days in February, participants in the Great Backyard Bird Count tallied more than 11 million birds across the United States and Canada - and Luling and Montz bird watchers tracked 23 species right here in St. Charles Parish.
Together, participants recorded 616 species and submitted more than 80,000 checklists33 percent more than the previous high of 61,000 checklists in 2000.
The GBBC, a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, engages people of all ages and levels of experience in learning about birds and reporting their sightings.
“There has never been a more detailed snapshot of continental bird distribution in history,” said John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
“It used to take scientists years to gather large-scale information about bird population and distributionand the GBBC does it in just four days each year, thanks to a continentwide community of birders reporting their counts online.”
Along with collecting valuable data, the count also gathers new and vital support for the environment.
“This record breaking turnout is proof of a powerful formulabirds plus fun equals a lifelong connection to nature,” said Audubon president John Flicker.
“It turns kids, parents and grandparents into more than citizen scientists; it helps make them citizens for the health of our planet.”
American Robins topped the list as the most numerous species counted, with more than two million robins reported from 60 states and provinces. Participant Lorraine Margeson counted a flock of 750,000 robins roosting in a mangrove forest in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“In the morning, the robins just pour out of there,” she observed.
“It’s spectacular with the sunrise on their red bellies. When you see it, you think this is what makes life worth living.”
This year’s rare birds included five Lesser Prairie-Chickens in Oklahoma and two Pink-footed Geese in Rhode Island, first records for the GBBC.
Participants also submitted more than 4,000 bird photos. The GBBC online photo gallery shows images from across the continent, including a Rock Pigeon perched high above New York City, and a pink Roseate Spoonbill taking flight in Houston, Texas.
Full results of the count are available online at www.birdcount.org.
Visitors can see what birds were reported in their own town or across the USA.
Attract birds to your yard with these plants
•Aster: This plant’s late summer to autumn daisylike flowers develop tasty seed heads sought by cardinals, chickadees, finches, nuthatches, and many other seed eaters.
•Goldenrod: Goldenrod's showy panicles of golden-yellow flowers appear from late summer to fall on clumps of upright to branching leafy stems, providing food (flower seeds) and cover for birds. Its nectar-rich flowers attract insects, which are a feast for bluebirds, mockingbirds, warblers, wrens, and other insect eaters; goldfinches and other small birds relish the seed heads.
•Common elderberry: More than 120 bird species seek food, shelter, and nesting sites here. In early summer, beautiful, large, umbel-shape heads of creamy-white flower clusters attract hummingbirds; late summer to autumn's heavy crop of purple to black berries draws catbirds, orioles, robins, tanagers, thrashers, warblers, waxwings, and woodpeckers, to name a few.
•Dogwood: This tree offers summer shelter and nesting sites. From late summer to fall and occasionally into winter, its small, fleshy fruit attract more than 90 species of birds, including bluebirds, cardinals, grosbeaks, jays, sparrows, tanagers, thrushes, vireos, many warblers, waxwings, and woodpeckers.