Counting crows … and a few other winter birds

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Evergreen Audubon holds first Kids Bird Count

By Sandy Barnes

"Another crow! There’s too many to count,” Hannah Crangle said while gazing into the wintry sky on Saturday morning.

Hannah was the lone but enthusiastic participant in Evergreen Audubon’s first Kids Bird Count. Surrounded by Audubon members, the young girl was checking out the area around Kittredge Community Park with an experienced eye.

Hannah has a family history of birding. Her great-grandmother is Louise Mounsey, who founded Evergreen Audubon with Sylvia Brockner, the longtime nature writer for the Canyon Courier.

Mounsey, who is now in her 90s, was waiting in the car while Hannah counted crows and a few other birds.

“She’s been interested in birds since she was a toddler,” said Mounsey. “She tries to imitate their calls.”

As she strolled along the road beside the park, Hannah said she thought she heard a familiar tweeting.

“The birds are probably telling each other that I have treats for them,” she said.

Dressed in a bright pink coat and hat, Hannah was holding a bag of cookies and a granola bar. When no birds showed up, she munched on a couple of fudge-stripe cookies.

While crows definitely dominated the avian scene, Hannah and the Audubon members did spot an American dipper and a pair of mallards in Bear Creek during the kids count.

Joann Hackos, the Evergreen Audubon member who planned the event for youths, explained that the dipper completely submerges itself in the creek to find aquatic life to eat.

“They’ve been pretty rare here lately,” Hackos said

During the annual Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 15, only five dippers were spotted by Audubon members. A total of 4,832 birds were identified during the count, 1,218 of which were crows.

Nearly 400 mountain chickadees also were spotted in the Christmas count, along with 514 dark-eyed juncos and 787 pygmy nuthatches and other species.

However, because of ice on lake and creek surfaces, not too many waterfowl were present at the count, said Audubon member Chuck Aid. An ice dam that broke recently on upper Clear Creek did create open water for some water birds in Golden, he said.

While talking about her favorite birds, Hannah said she’d like to see a rare species that her great-grandmother once spotted in Texas: the ivory-billed woodpecker.

However, she may have to travel to Arkansas, where the most recent sighting was reported a few years ago. Meanwhile, there are lots of crows — and the rare dipper — to see in Evergreen.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.