AP NEWS

Christmas Bird Count

December 23, 2016

Vounteers are needed for the 6th Annual Sea Islands Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 4, Kiawah Island officials said.

The count area includes Kiawah, Seabrook, Wadmalaw and Johns islands.

“It’s kind of a snapshot of what birds are in the area during the winter,” said Jim Jordan, Town of Kiawah Island wildlife biologist.

The event is affiliated with the National Audubon Society which sponsors more than 2,000 of the bird counts in North and South America and other countries between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

“The greatest benefit is when you combine all these hundreds and hundreds of data sets across the country,” Jordan said. “You can start to see long-term trends in different bird species. Are they wintering further north, further south?”

The Audubon Society compiles data from the counts, and the results are provided in an annual online journal, American Birds.

Kiawah wildlife biologist Aaron Given is looking for residents who have bird feeders and are willing to count birds that visit their feeders throughout the day, according to a town press release.

Those interested in participating in the count can contact Given at agiven@kiawahisland.org.

Some 230 species are on a list of currently endangered or at-risk birds compiled by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative. The list includes more than half of “backyard bird” species as well as half of U.S. shorebirds.

Most species are declining due to factors like habitat and food source loss, human disturbance and predators, including domestic cats, according to experts.

The Lowcountry, with its huge swaths of open and protected land and shore, appears to be becoming a refuge for more and more species as well as individual birds forced from other overrun habitats. About a million acres along the coast now are under some form of conservation, officials said.