Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Count and Journalism

Cooper's Hawk -- December 14, 2009
Photo by Ardith Bondi

At the annual Christmas Count in Central Park last Sunday, I was on Ardith Bondi's team covering the northwest quadrant of the park. We didn't find any mind-boggling birds this year --a few years ago we had a good look at a Northern Shrike -- but it was a lovely day and we certainly saw a lot of titmice -- more than 20.

Our most dramatic bird was the unusually pale Cooper's Hawk shown above, gleaming in the sun on a completely exposed perch near the Blockhouse. From the bulge in her crop [by size I'd say it was a female] it looks like our raptor had recently dined, but not, I hope, on the mind-boggling bird that might have made us stars of the Christmas Count.

Below, two newspaper reports of Sunday's event, the first from Newsday, a respectable New York daily, the second from the often scorned Epoch Times, a cult-associated publication.

Fie on Newsday for using the same old tacky puns newspapers always drag out when writing about birdwatchers: "for the birds" and "bird enthusiasts flocked." and etc. Fie fie! And to conclude with the old "partridge in a pear tree" joke. Triple fie. Meanwhile, the less respected Epoch Times's article avoids these old saws and reports quite a few more facts. Bravo, though one demerit for misspelling the Pine Siskin.

From Newsday:

NEW YORK - Central Park is for the birds.

Bird enthusiasts flocked to the park on Sunday for the annual Christmas Bird Count organized by the New York chapter of the Audubon Society.

City Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benape said birdwatchers counted 55 species, for a total of just over 6,000 birds. Among the more frequently seen birds were sparrows and pigeons. Some of the more unusual sightings included a wild turkey and a peregrine falcon.

There was no sighting of a partridge in a pear tree.

The Epoch Times:

NEW YORK—The annual Central Park bird count was held on Sunday afternoon. The count is done each year to track the number and type of birds found in the park and has been done for 109 consecutive years.

Originally initiated by the Audubon Society, it is still organized by the bird watching society and is done in conjunction with the Parks Department, who assist the annual outing by organizing volunteers and sending them out on their task with a Park Ranger.

A small army of volunteers of about 75 people came out on Sunday and was divided into groups to count birds in seven different zones in the park, including the great lawn, the Ramble, the reservoir area and the four corners of the park.

Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said the count this year was 6,041 birds from 55 different species. That’s down from last year’s count of 7,771 birds. Up this year were the number of rare bird called a Pine Sisken, about 50 were seen in the Ramble area of the park, a large increase over last year. Another special find this year was the sighting of a wild turkey in the park that managed to survive this year’s Thanksgiving.