© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Western Mass. wildlife enthusiasts participate in national bird count

 Inside the Quabbin Reservoir in Petersham, Massachusetts.
Nancy Eve Cohen
Inside the Quabbin Reservoir in Petersham, Massachusetts.

This time of year wildlife enthusiasts volunteer one day to count every bird they see or hear across the United States, Canada, as well as Central and South America. In Massachusettsnearly three dozen groups participate, including one that counts in the Quabbin Reservoir.

When the National Audubon Society's first Christmas bird count was organized in 1900, an ornithologist proposed people count birds over the holiday rather than hunt them. The count takes place from December 14 through January 5.

A group of about forty people will cover the Quabbin and parts of nearby towns including Hardwick, Petersham, Ware and Belchertown on New Year's day. They count everything from black-capped chickadees to red-tailed hawks.

Scott Surner, who organizes the group, also known as a "circle," has seen some changes nationally since he first did the count decades ago.

"There are more people out there doing the bird count. And there are more Christmas count circles than there were thirty years ago, but the numbers of birds are declining," Surner said.

The counts provide scientists with a large data setencompassing more than 12 decades to evaluate the health of bird populations. One study shows a loss of nearly three billion birds since 1970 in North America across species and habitats.

In the Quabbin, Surner said he has seen an increase in some species over the years including the common raven, the red-bellied woodpecker and the eastern bluebird.

Copyright 2021 New England Public Media. To see more, visit New England Public Media.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Previously she served as the editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub, a collaborative of public radio stations. Earlier in her career she was the Midwest editor for NPR in Washington, D.C. Before working in radio, she recorded sound as part of a camera crew for network television news, with assignments in Russia, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba and in Sarajevo during the war in 1992.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.