Audubon Christmas Bird Count on St. Croix

Egret at Bucaneer 2 stx 12-28-15

Carol Buchanan (St. Croix Source) writes about the Audubon Christmas Bird Count on St. Croix. According to Buchanan, the counts were done from one end of St. Croix to the other in more than 40 different spots on the island. Organizer and compiler Bill Boyton explained that about two dozen volunteers counted birds from sunrise to sunset in the annual bird count Sunday.

“The preliminary numbers indicate the bird count is down on the eastern circle and up in the west,” [Bill] Boyton said. He added there were reports Sunday that a lot of ponds on the east side were “dry as a bone” and the number of birds were way down. He said even though we’ve had rain in the last month or two the drought has had a lasting effect. He said the counts of the birds in the west were up, but it didn’t necessarily mean the birds moved to the west side where there was more precipitation.  He said the numbers will be in and compiled in about four weeks.

The 13 teams, generally made up of two people each, counted from Point Udall, at the farthest eastern tip of the United States, to Hams Bluff in Frederiksted. The teams were out before 6:30 a.m. looking and listening for the birds to start singing and taking flight.

Boyton said volunteers counted at every pond on St. Croix. There are ponds at the Agriculture Department, Carambola, Buccaneer and Reef golf courses. The birds are counted at Creque Damn, Mount Victory, Great Salt Pond, South Gate and the University of the Virgin Islands wetlands. Volunteers counted birds at the West End Salt Pond, the pier in Frederiksted, Cruzan Rum and more.

“I ask people to count till they drop,” Boyton said, since there are a lot of areas to cover. And there are about 100 species of birds to look for in the different areas. He said he was excited to get four new volunteers this year as the number of volunteers has been dropping the last few years.

Ken Haines, who was counting on the east end, said he noticed the vegetation was sparse in places where the little black and yellow bananaquit likes to feed. He added it was a beautiful day for bird watching.

According to long-time local birder Lisa Yntema, the Christmas Bird Count on St. Croix began in the early 1970s.

She said the first year the CBC took place on St. Croix appears to be 1972 with two participants who counted 684 individuals of 51 species. The first year that shows up in the online CBC historical data is 1973. [. . .]

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