Christmas Bird Count at the Refuge
The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) will take place on Saturday, January 4, 2020, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Visitor Center by 8:00 a.m., where volunteer birders will be divided into groups to count birds on the Refuge. At noon, there will be a free hot lunch provided by the Friends of Neal Smith NWR. This program is free and open to the public of all ages. Birders of all skill levels are welcome and encouraged to participate; an experienced birder will help guide each group. Please pre-register for this program by Tuesday, December 31, to ensure that Neal Smith NWR has enough personnel to provide the best birding experience for all participants and to be sure there is enough food available for participants. To register, please contact Karen Viste-Sparkman at Karen_Vistesparkman@fws.gov or 515-994-3400.
Come dressed for the weather and wear good shoes for walking. Please bring binoculars and field guides if you have them, although a limited number will be available for participants who do not have them. Additionally, please bring your own snacks and reusable water bottle. At noon, groups will reconvene at the Visitor Center and over lunch, participants will share their results of birds sighted. After lunch, those who wish to will spend a few more hours birding sites within the count circle, which is a fifteen-mile diameter circle centered on Vandalia.
During the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, all birds of all species are counted, with estimates made when actual counts are not possible. Each group tallies its results, and the totals from each group are combined. People who live within 7.5 miles of Vandalia (including the towns of Prairie City and Runnells) and have bird feeders can also participate by counting birds at their feeders that day and reporting to the Refuge.