January 1, 2022: the sky is a deep frosted cerulean. Snow blankets the Jordan River. At 9:00 a.m. sharp, a team of birdwatchers hoped to spot their first birds of the new year. With finger-numbing temperatures, what compelled us to brave the icy Jordan River Trail?
Tracy Aviary’s Conservation department, along with several volunteers, were gathered for the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The CBC is one of the longest-running citizen science projects organized by the National Audubon Society. Every winter, from late December through early January, birders across North America join forces to document birds in their area. The amount of data collected by community members is staggering! Data is compiled and shared with biologists and conservation agencies, providing important information about bird populations over time.
On New Year’s Day alone, our team counted more than 42 different species on the Jordan River! As we strolled along the trail, we watched a Wood Duck balance on the branches of a Russian Olive tree, eagerly guzzling plump fruits. At noon, we heard bugling calls overhead. Above the skyline, a flock of 200 Sandhill Cranes emerged. We counted more birds than I can list: mockingbirds and flickers, kingfishers and coots.
Although people associate birds with the return of spring, there are also lots of winter species to appreciate. If you’re looking for a new hobby, regardless of the season, might we suggest a stroll along the local Jordan River Trail? You never know what you’ll find when you take a moment to look for nature in the city!