Update, Jan. 5, 2012: The one-day concentrated eagle count has been moved to Friday, Jan. 13. We've changed the date below.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — There's still time to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count, and to get ready for the January eagle count.
The bird count started Dec. 14 but runs to Jan. 1. Bird lovers throughout the state participate in the nation's longest running wildlife survey, now in its 112th year.
Northern and Central Berkshire held their counts this past weekend but a Southern Berkshire group will be counting on Sunday, Jan. 1. The fee is $5 and the contact is Rene Laubach.
The data collected by bird observers over the past century have allowed 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, the CBC provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.
You can also report the birds visiting your feeder if your home is within a counting circle. For more information visit MassBird.
If getting up at the crack of dawn on New Year's isn't your thing, wait until mid-January for the nationwide Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey.
"With higher numbers of eagles dispersing throughout their range, we can't possibly cover the entire state," said Tom French, DFW's assistant director of natural heritage and endangered species. "Citizen spotters play an increasingly important role in our survey efforts. In January of 2011, we received 61 emailed reports from people who saw eagles during the two-week survey period."
Anyone spotting an eagle in Massachusetts from Jan. 4 to Jan. 18, 2012, is strongly encouraged to report his or her sighting to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Provide date, time, location, and town, number of birds, juvenile or adult bird, and observer contact information. Images are welcome, but not required (but you can send them to iBerkshires.com!). Report sightings to Mass.firstname.lastname@example.org or to "Eagle Survey," MassWildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.
A target date of Friday, Jan. 6, Jan 13, will be used for a concentrated survey of major rivers, lakes, reservoirs and the coast by staff from the DFW and volunteers. In 2011, a record 107 bald eagles were documented in Massachusetts during the one-day event. Here's a fact sheet on bald eagles.
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