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Christmas Bird Count yields 25 bird species at Dunes

Posted: Thursday, Mar 14th, 2013

A volunteer participates in the Annual Christmas Bird Count. Photo courtesy of Great Sand Dunes National Park

SAND DUNES — Dedicated volunteers endured frigid and clear winter conditions to locate 25 different bird species at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve during the Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), announced Superintendent Lisa Carrico. Twelve registered volunteers participated in the count this year, which took place on December 29, 2012. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has coordinated this event since 1992.

Numbers of species observed were on par with those of past CBCs, with a total of 25 species reported, and the number of individual birds observed was 439. Horned Larks, Dark-eyed Juncos, and Clark’s Nutcrackers were among those most commonly observed. Results of the count will go into a national database managed by the Audubon Society, and will be available nationally in book form titled “American Birds: The 113th Annual Christmas Bird Count.”

Conditions were beautifully clear and calm throughout the duration of the count. Outdoor temperatures ranged from a minimum temperature of 0 F to a high of 23 F during count time.

The CBC is sponsored by Friends of the Dunes, Inc., a non-profit group dedicated to education and research at the park. The Friends group also supports the Junior Ranger program, geomorphology research at the park, and co-sponsored a multi-year archaeological survey of the park and preserve area.

The CBC began on Christmas Day, 1900, when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, posed an alternative to the “side hunt,” a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed to identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and what has become a more than century-old institution.

113th Christmas Bird Count Results

Great Sand Dunes

National Park and Preserve

Red-tailed Hawk 6

Rough-legged Hawk 1

American Kestrel 1

Prairie Falcon 2

Great Horned Owl 3

Hairy Woodpecker 1

Northern Flicker 1

Northern Shrike 2

Steller’s Jay 6

Western Scrub-Jay 5

Clark’s Nutcracker 23

Black-billed Magpie 18

Common Raven 16

Horned Lark 115

Black-capped Chickadee


Mountain Chickadee 12

Juniper Titmouse 3

Bushtit 4

White-breasted Nuthatch


Townsend’s Solitaire 17

European Starling 36

American Tree Sparrow 4

Song Sparrow 4

Dark-eyed Junco 109

House Sparrow 35

Total Individuals 439

Total Species Reported


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