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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

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Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

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Tuesday
Dec132011

Audubon Bird Count at Koke'e, Sat. Dec. 17 

Join the Koke'e Museum and volunteer for the annual Christmas bird count on Saturday, Dec. 17. Trek into some of the most botanically-rich areas of the island and enjoy the opportunity to see Kauai's native birds.

From December 14 through January 5 tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas take part in an adventure that has become a family tradition among generations. Families and students, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists go out on an annual mission - often before dawn. For over one hundred years, the desire to both make a difference and to experience the beauty of nature has driven dedicated people to leave the comfort of a warm house during the Holiday season.

Each of the citizen scientists who annually braves snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count makes an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations - and to help guide conservation action.

From feeder-watchers and field observers to count compilers and regional editors, everyone who takes part in the Christmas Bird Count does it for love of birds and the excitement of friendly competition -- and with the knowledge that their efforts are making a difference for science and bird conservation.

The data collected by observers over the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.

The long term perspective made possible by the Christmas Bird Count is vital for conservationists. It informs strategies to protect birds and their habitat - and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. For example, local trends in bird populations can indicate habitat fragmentation or signal an immediate environmental threat, such as groundwater contamination or poisoning from improper use of pesticides.

In the 1980's CBC data documented the decline of wintering populations of the American Black Duck, after which conservation measures were put into effect to reduce hunting pressure on this species. More recently, in 2009, the data were instrumental in Audubon’s Birds & Climate Change analysis, which documented range shifts of bird species over time. Also in 2009 CBC data were instrumental in the collaborative report  by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative,  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - State of the Birds 2009

In 2007, the data were instrumental in the development of two Audubon State of the Birds Reports -Common Birds in Decline, which revealed that some of America's most beloved and familiar birds have taken a nosedive over the past forty years, and WatchList 2007, which identified 178 rarer species in the continental U.S. and 39 in Hawaii that are imperiled. These three reports helped scientists and policy-makers to both identify threats to birds and habitat, and promote broad awareness of the need to address them.

To meet up with the group of Kauai birdwatchers, be at the Koke'e Museum (behind the Koke'e Lodge) at 7 AM on Saturday, Dec. 17. Please bring/wear warm clothes, hiking boots, rain gear, bottled water and trail snacks.

For more information call Michelle Ho'okano at (808) 335-9975