Join the Christmas Bird Count

<I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Three swans have adorned Black Lake near Ilwaco since late November. This photo shows just how much larger they are than Canada geese. Both species are among those likely to be observed during the annual Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, which runs through Jan. 5.

PACIFIC COUNTY - Need a break from holiday shopping and all those turkey dinners? If you're a bird watcher - or think you might want to be - spotting teams are forming up around the state for the 105th annual Christmas Bird Count, which started Tuesday and runs through Jan. 5 in more than 50 areas around the state.

Birders in Washington, along with those from Alaska to Argentina, will be counting every bird they see in one 24-hour period within those dates and reporting their results to the Audubon Society.

The results are compiled into the longest-running database in ornithology, invaluable for tracking bird population trends.

These day-long counts of bird species and numbers are conducted in traditional 15-mile-diameter areas.

Here's where and when nearby counts are scheduled and who to contact for more information:

• Columbia Estuary (Ft. Canby, Ilwaco, Ft. Columbia, Chinook Valley in Pacific County), Dec. 19, Mike Patterson, (, (503) 325-1365;

• Wahkiakum, Dec. 28, Andrews Emlen, (, (360) 795-8009.

Meanwhile, a Tweeters website correspondent reports a successful outing in search of acorn woodpeckers in the Lyle area (Klickitat County). Four were spotted along the eastern portion of Balsh Lake Road. The acorn woodpeckers were also heard calling as they foraged in an oak grove gathering acorns. Acorn woodpeckers exhibit a black-and-white coloration with a cream-colored throat, a black back and breast band, striking white eyes and a bright red cap.

Another birder's trip to the Ridgefield Wildlife Area and the Dike Access near Woodland yielded sightings of more than 200 sandhill cranes and over 350 tundra swans.

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