Four Bald Eagles Part Of Annual Bird Count

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The count is in.

The Payson Birders conducted their second annual Payson Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 16 as part of a nationwide effort. Since 1900, the National Audubon Society has conducted bird counts throughout North America.

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The Payson Birders spent an entire day in December cataloging every bird they saw, which included 82 species and more than 4,000 birds.

It was 20 degrees in the morning when the 13 participants headed out to spend the day identifying and counting all the birds they saw or heard in and around Payson. They devoted 40 hours of time and covered 113 miles of territory on foot and by car. They saw 82 species, up from 78 species last year, and counted more than 4,000 birds, also an increase.

Short distance migrants that come here from the north for winter numerically dominated the count. Large flocks of American robins, western bluebirds and dark-eyed juncos were observed. Good finds included four bald eagles, a winter wren along the East Verde River, a loggerhead shrike near the Control Road, and a Ross' goose at Green Valley Park. Several Anna's hummingbirds tough out the winter around Payson instead of heading to lower elevations like most of their kind.

Local residents who participated in the count were: Barbara Brenke, Diane Brown, Tom Conlin, Jess Estes, Diana Garrity, Jim Garrity, Dave Hallock, Rick Heffernon, Grace Knowles, Beverly Malmberg, Peggy Newman, Sue Shuett and Joanne Travis.

The count is a census of the birds found during a 24-hour period in a designated circle 15 miles in diameter.

The Payson count circle is centered a little northwest of town.

It runs north to the Control Road and Whispering Pines, east just past Diamond Point Shadows, south to just below Oxbow Hill, and west to the Tonto Natural Bridge.

The national project included over 2,000 counts held between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. Records from these counts comprise an extensive ornithological database that enables scientists to monitor winter bird populations and evaluate biological trends.

Full results of the Payson count can be viewed on the Audubon Web site at http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/.

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