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Over 100 bird-watchers take annual Christmas county around the bay

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush -- at least when it comes to counting the wide range of bird species that spend their winters in San Francisco.

Over 100 seasoned bird-watchers are scoured the San Francisco Bay and its environs Tuesday for the Golden Gate Audubon Society's 29th annual Christmas Bird Count -- a census-like count assessing the state of the Bay's bird life, said Dan Murphy, who co-founded the local event.

Teams of bird watchers from dawn to dusk peered through binoculars to count birds in 17 different San Francisco locations including a boat that will span the bay, according to Murphy.

Sponsored in part by the Presidio Trust, the Christmas count coincides with more than 2,000 bird compilations this month taken throughout

North and South America and in some Pacific islands, he said.

"Birds are a lot more accessible in winter," Murphy said, making the holiday season an ideal time to catalog both native and far-flung winged

creatures.

During last year's holiday event, observers in San Francisco counted 177 different bird species and more than 57,000 individual birds, ranging from pigeons to more exotic species such as the red phalarope, the Tennessee warbler or the black-legged kittiwake.

But participants last year also noticed a startling lack of other previously native bird species such California Quail and different types of diving ducks.

Murphy said San Francisco's bird populations appear to dwindle due to air and water pollution and because of rising numbers of feral cats and

off-leash dogs that prey on various birds.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike McCormack
a resident of Alamo
on Dec 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

Thanks for the info on the Golden Gate Audobon bird count of the San Francisco Bay. Given our more local Danville interest, I thought it appropriate to point out that the Mount Diablo Audubon Society (www.diabloaudubon.com) sponsors several bird counts in Contra Costa county.


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