Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another journalist miscreant -- Postscript to previous post

Shortly after I posted my rant about newspapers' coverage of the Christmas Bird Count, Website correspondent Margo Beller sent in another egregious example of journalistic tackiness. In the NY Post article below, we get birdwatchers flocking again, and the partridge in a pear tree joke again [Ugh!] The Bye Bye Birdie headline, however, is hideously their own this year. Still, the article must be commended for including some good reporting.



December 15, 2008

New Yorkers flocked to Central Park yesterday to bid bon voyage to thousands of their high-flying neighbors heading south for the winter.

Spotters, armed with binoculars and reference guides, counted more than 6,000 birds over a four-hour span - including 979 house sparrows, 448 common grackles, eight cedar waxwings and two red-headed woodpeckers.

It was the 109th Annual Christmas Bird Count - but not a single calling bird, French hen, turtledove or partridge turned up.

Nicole Belacretaz had been counting birds for hours and perked up when a tiny, ruby-crowned kinglet whizzed by.

"It's one of the smallest birds after the hummingbird, and it moves very fast," said Belacretaz, who studies birds for the New York City Audubon Society. "The surprise was that it was still here because it should have migrated south already."

Volunteers throughout New York and the rest of the US will document bird sightings between now and Jan. 5 for patterns that will help conservation efforts.

"This is my second year," said Alicia Svenson, 33, an architectural designer from the East Village. "It's fun to meet other birders. It's one of those hobbies that takes over your life. There is a thrill in seeing a bird you haven't seen before."

Organizers said the data help them assess the health of bird populations.

The count was begun Dec. 25, 1900, as a protest against the annual "side hunt," a competitive shooting of birds and small mammals.

More than 2,000 counts will be conducted involving more than 59,000 volunteers in all 50 states, every Canadian province, Central and South America, the Caribbean and several Pacific islands.

Similar counts will be held Dec. 20 in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Volunteers will conduct a count for The Bronx and Westchester on Dec. 28.

Andrew Baksh, 35, a computer consultant from Ozone Park, Queens, couldn't wait for the count in his borough, so he went to Central Park.

"I love birds," he said. "I built my own bird garden. I planted plants that attract birds and butterflies. I like to sit outside and watch them."