2016 started off with BTNEP assisting in the revival of the Thibodaux Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on January 2nd. Fourteen volunteers were able to assist in counting as many birds as they could within a seven and a half mile radius. The day started off with participants meeting early in the morning to discuss assignments for the area they were to cover. My team started our count along Bayou Lafourche near the Sugar Cane mill on the western part of town. We didn’t need binoculars to id our first bird: a Great Egret stalking prey at the edge of the bayou. Throughout the day, we observed birds we expected and found some that were a surprise.
This year marked the 116th year that the Audubon Society has conducted the Christmas Bird Count. The first CBC took place on Christmas day in 1900 in response to an annual holiday tradition where participants would engage in a tradition known as the Christmas “side hunt”. Ornithologist, Frank M. Chapman, suggested starting a new tradition of counting birds for an annual census. Now, the event serves as the nation’s longest running citizen science bird project.
Rick Bello says he was fairly new to birding when he helped get the Thibodaux CBC started. In 1987, he and avid birder, Michael Foret, worked together to draft a letter to Audubon requesting a count circle be established for the area. Rick said they had a lot of good maps and worked with different circle options trying to figure out which selection would best offer the greatest amount of diverse habitat in Thibodaux. The center of the circle ended up being at an intersection where 2 navigation canals meet. The area surrounding that center includes wooded swamp, deciduous forest, sugar cane fields, grasslands, a lake, ponds and residential areas.
This year, over 12,000 birds consisting of 115 species were counted. Highlights included: Yellow-throated Warbler, Neo-tropic Cormorant, Grasshopper Sparrow, Least Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, and Painted Bunting.
Thank you to all the volunteers that helped make this year’s Thibodaux Christmas Bird Count a success!