[CT Birds] Count Week

ls.broker at cox.net ls.broker at cox.net
Sat Nov 17 15:13:56 EST 2012

Count Week (CW) birds, also known as Count Period (CP) birds, are species recorded either during the three day period before or during the three day period following a scheduled National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count.  Count Week birds are of interest to us because they are confirmed as being within the designated count circle at the approximate time of the Count Day, but they were not recorded on (that is, they were missed on) Count Day.  It is a "lower level" record of a species for Christmas Bird Count data.  For example, if on the upcoming 2012-2013 Connecticut CBC a single Pine Grosbeak or a flock of Pine Grosbeaks was seen within the Barkhamsted count circle the day before the scheduled CTBA count but that species was (unfortunately) missed on count day, birders (and data miners) would be interested in knowing that the species was at least in the vicinity very close to count day.  

Most count week species are rare species for a given count, a further reason for noting their presence.  On regional (northern, mid-state, or coastal) compilations (which we don't publish in The Connecticut Warbler for lack of space but which I keep track of), and on the statewide summation (which we do publish in TCW), count week species almost always are rare species.   While I haven't checked my CBC spreadsheets to see when National Audubon first made use of the Count Week designation, I know that its use goes back to at least 1950 and probably well before then.  

Some of our 18 statewide counts annually tend to post count week species, sometimes as many as a dozen species missed on count day.  (Weather conditions may have prevented birders finding the species on count day.)  Other Connecticut CBCs never make note of count week species.  This has to do in part with count circles that see active birding on a daily basis ("so let's make sure to report the species we missed on count day") and in part with some CBC participants just not wanting to let go of the thrill of Christmas Bird Counts ("let's stretch out the CBC experience to a week - we don't want to let up on this passionate pursuit").  The second reason is a little like the folks who were active in the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas 2 field work during 2007-2011.  The post-atlas year 2012 comes along, and what is one to do with birding in Massachusetts?  Well, pretend that the Atlas is still running, and keep searching out those breeding birds in 2012.  Why stop a good thing?

Best wishes to Barkhamsted for finding flocks of Pine Grosbeaks and other great winter finches this CBC season!

Steve Broker (Cheshire)

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