A mallard stands by a ditch during the annual Christmas bird count
A mallard stands by a ditch during the annual Christmas bird count (Hannah Grover)
FARMINGTON — The frost still clung to the ground as about half a dozen birders started off to count the birds around the Animas River in Farmington for the annual Chistmas Bird Count.

Participants of the bird count, hosted by the Four Corners Bird Club, met at the Riverside Nature Center Saturday morning. All across the country, bird enthusiasts were doing the exact same thing — counting birds.

Donna Thatcher from the Riverside Nature Center said groups across the country can select a date within a two week period of time for the count. On the selected day, the birders count every bird they see within a particular tract of land that has the birds counted every year.

Originally scheduled for last week, the count was postponed to Saturday due to the snowstorm.

Armed with binoculars, a notebook and warm clothes, local birders started walking along the river.

Some of the more common birds seen included European Starlings, American Robins, and Mallard ducks.

The birders also saw a few rarer sights, such as a female Merlin — a falcon that occasionally winters in the New Mexico area — perched on a cell phone tower and a Sharp-shinned Hawk swooping down to try to catch a few small birds from the bushes.

One bird that usually is quite common and was surprisingly absent on Saturday was the Mountain Chickadee, a small grayish bird that nests in the mountains and comes down into the towns during the winter.

The data collected during the count will be placed into a national database that scientists can use for research purposes.


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A flock of Canada geese flies through the trees on Saturday.
A flock of Canada geese flies through the trees on Saturday. (Hannah Grover)