Early December is a great time to learn about Black-throated Sparrow (right) and other sparrows of the Southwest, search for exotic birds, and breakfast with Sandhill Cranes. It’s also time for a fun and important annual tradition — the Christmas Bird Count.
Looking for a fun event taking place in late November? Act now and you can still enjoy festivals celebrating Bald Eagles, Sandhill Cranes, and other birds.
Winter Sparrows of the Southwest
ABA Institute for Field Ornithology, Sierra Vista, Arizona
Daily outings will be followed by classroom presentations on identification, vocalizations, ecology, natural history, and conservation. Potential highlights include Cassin’s, Rufous-winged, Black-chinned, and Baird’s Sparrows and Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspurs. Other birds of interest that may be seen include Ferruginous Hawk, Scaled Quail, Bendire’s Thrasher, and Mountain Plover. Event website.
Tropical Audubon Society South Florida Exotics Trip
This is one of our favorite events. Paul Bithorn and Brian Rapoza will lead an all-day van trip in search of parrots, bulbuls, mynas, and other wacky and beautiful introduced species in Miami. Writer Mark Hedden described searching for exotics in Miami in an article in BirdWatching (left). Tropical Audubon Society calendar (scroll down).
Breakfast with the Sandhill Cranes
After breakfast and a presentation about Sandhill Crane behavior, attendees will tour Galveston Island’s West End to observe cranes. Keanna Leonard, education director at the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon, Nebraska, will present a mini-workshop. Event website.
December 14-January 5
114th Christmas Bird Count
Across North America
Participation in this year’s count is free. And it’s important, since Audubon and other organizations use the data collected to assess the health of bird populations and to help guide conservation action.
We highlight fun birding events in “Birding Briefs” in every issue of BirdWatching magazine. Most of the events above appeared in our December 2013 issue.
About the artist: Rob Mancini
Robert Mancini is an award-winning illustrator and artist with a lifelong interest in nature and birds and a passion for shorebirds and waders. He lives in Melbourne, Australia. Mancini has illustrated many natural history titles, including books published by The Nature Company (among these Birding and Natural Gardening) and by National Geographic, Australian Geographic, and Readers’ Digest. You can view his artwork and purchase a print of the illustration above on Etsy at RobManciniImages.