It was announced today that my city, Mentor, Ohio, turned in the highest number of checklists, reporting more numbers of birds than any place in the country, during this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, held during the period February 12 – 15th.
Jeff Frischkorn of the News-Herald reports:
Mentor once again has flown away with top honors as the No. 1 city in North America for counting birds.
The top tally was achieved during the annual four-day Great American Bird Count, held Feb. 12 to 15 with mandatory online recording required by March 1. Only handwritten paper data forms continue to “trickle in,” said Miyoko Chu, spokeswoman for Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
Cornell co-sponsors the count with the National Audubon Society.
“I feel comfortable in calling Mentor the top city for checklists. That figure is impressive; off the charts even,” Chu said.
The count showed that at least 709 checklists have been recorded for Mentor, which is 155 more checklists than Columbia, Ky.’s second-place standing.
By comparison, Chu also said, Cornell’s home base is anchored with many birders but managed to produce only about 100 checklists.
Among the bird species observed and recorded in Mentor were 4,060 Canada geese on 369 checklists, 1,928 tree sparrows on 143 checklists, 1,143 crows on 193 checklists, 758 mallard ducks on 72 checklists, 59 American bald eagles on 39 checklists and one belted kingfisher on one checklist.
Contributing to the significant local count were Mentor School District’s elementary students. It started out as a tribute to Kevin Schaner, who retired as media specialist for the school district and who began encouraging the young people to assist in the project, said Mark Wardeiner, a technology media teacher at Lake Elementary School in Mentor-on-the-Lake.
“If I had to guess, about 300 students turned in checklists. All of the district’s technology teachers at our elementary schools participated. It was a great way to incorporate our technology curriculum in a scientific way,” he said.
Even though the count is over, Wardeiner said young people remain thrilled about the subject matter. The various schools are seeing a crush of students taking out bird identification books.
“You know, we can’t keep bird books on the shelves. Kids love ’em and now are saying they not only are watching birds but are trying to identify them. Kids are still coming up to me with reports of what they’ve seen. That’s the best part of all this,” Wardeiner said.
This was the 13th year for the Backyard Bird Count and produced a record 96,842 checklists, tallying 11,185,368 birds representing 600 species.
By comparison, the first count in 1998 generated 13,587 checklists and a figure of 50,118 checklists just five years later.
Chu said the information garnered by the count is useful because it provides Cornell and Audubon with a real-time snapshot of bird numbers.
“Because of that we can quickly compare and see if there are any changes from year-to-year and across the continent, and also if any anomalies are seen,” Chu said.
At that point, scientists can explore other research to help better understand the dynamics of bird population fluctuations and trends, Chu said.
A total of 109 species were reported. You can view the complete list here.
This shows how many birds inhabit an urban landscape. Mentor is a city of approx. 50,000, containing the sixth largest shopping district in Ohio. However, along with all that concrete we also have lots of wooded backyards, small inland lakes, creeks, marshes and of course, Lake Erie, providing a diverse habitat in a relatively small space.
Oh, and about those 4000+ Canadian geese on the list? Watch your step – every trail in every park in the city is covered with goose poop!