Looking for something interesting and different to do during the holiday season? Do you enjoy the out-of-doors and the brisk winter weather? Then consider volunteering for the 113th National Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count this month. There are two opportunities for Tehachapi area bird enthusiasts to participate and there is no charge.
Generations of families armed with bird guides, binoculars and checklists take off on the yearly trek, helping to make a difference and experience nature's beauty. The Audubon Society and other organizations use the data collected by volunteers for its longest-running wildlife census, which it uses to help guide conservation decisions and assess the health of the nation's bird population.
"I started the count in 1991, after realizing that Tehachapi was a productive birding area," said Larry Parmeter who lives in Fresno but has spent years birding in the area.
Following several seasons of leadership by Clark and Jean Moore, Parmeter has returned as director and is excited to get started with this year's count, which covers a 15-mile geographic circle that extends from the city to Golden Hills, to Brite Lake, Tehachapi Mountain Park and Sand Canyon.
And like the topography, the diversity of bird life ranges, as well -- from waterfowl and shorebirds to several species of raptors, including Golden Eagles and occasionally Bald Eagles.
"The average is about 90-95 species per count, and on a few occasions have gone over 100," Parmeter said. "Tehachapi is at the confluence of three or four major habitat zones -- the mountain forest areas, the foothill oak and scrub habitat, open meadows area and the edge of the high desert area and the desert habitat environment -- each with its own distinct bird species."
How to volunteer
Everyone is welcome to assist, no matter what level of expertise, so if you are interested meet at Henry's Cafe at 550 Tucker Rd. starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 19. for breakfast, prior to heading out to the count areas at 7 a.m.
Volunteers will then rally at Denny's Restaurant on Mill Street on the north side of Highway 58 at 4:45 p.m. for dinner and tallying of species and numbers.
For more information call Larry Parmeter at 559-276-8753.
A second Christmas Bird Count will take place in Bear Valley Springs on Thursday, Dec. 20. This count is in a restricted area and requires some experience. For more information regarding the BVS count call Ali Sheehey at 760-417-0268 or visit natureali.org.
Finally, to learn more about the birds of Tehachapi, you are invited to view a presentation by Mary Dufrain during the Kern Audubon Society Holiday Potluck on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the Reider Education Center at 2000 "K" St., Bakersfield. Please bring a dish if you attend this event.
For more information call 322-7470 or visit kenraudubonsociety.org.