Fri, Feb 28, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Public flocks to help with nation’s largest bird census

Staff writer, with CNA

A local birding association on Wednesday released the initial results of its largest-ever bird census, an event that drew nearly 1,000 people to scout out the different types of birds residing in and visiting Taiwan.

Chinese Wild Bird Federation director Hung Kuan-chieh (洪貫捷) said the unprecedented level of participation helped find 139 resident species, 128 migratory species, 59 transient visitants — meaning those birds just passing through on their way to other destinations — and six stragglers — birds that have strayed out of their regular range.

Hung said that the survey, which took place between Dec. 28 last year and Jan. 12 this year, was the first of its kind conducted in more than 30 years and he was surprised by the enthusiastic participation of members of the public.

“This is a good start for Taiwan in relying on public participation in scientific research,” he said, adding that past surveys have not received such an overwhelming reception.

In comparison, a survey of breeding birds — that is, one that only counts resident species — drew only 400 participants last year.

In the comprehensive New Year count, each volunteer was assigned an area within a 3km radius in which he or she had to record each type of bird seen over a period of six hours.

Universities, civic groups and more than 20 birding associations cooperated to set up more than 100 observation spots covering 8.6 percent of Taiwan proper, Hung said.

The survey was based on the Christmas bird count held annually in North America, which brings nature lovers together to identify as many bird species as they can from mid-December to early January every year.

Taiwan held New Year bird counts from 1974, but prior to this year, the activity had not been held since 1983.

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