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Count the Bald Eagles of Canyon Lake!

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by Texas Master Naturalist Lindheimer Chapter

Comal County is smack dab in the middle of the Central North American Flyway, which means we’ll be very busy tallying our feathered friends during Audubon Society’s 2017 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Dec. 31.

Texas Master Naturalist Lindheimer Chapter members begin their 13th annual count in New Braunfels on Dec. 31. Canyon Lake’s unofficial count is scheduled for Jan.27. Official dates for CBC are Dec. 14 through Jan. 5, 2018.

Areas covered include Landa Park, Cypress Bend Park, the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, fields near the New Braunfels airport, ponds, creeks, prairie, and subdivisions. The circle, centered on the Comal County courthouse, is broken into five areas areas.

CBC is the longest-running citizen wildlife census in the world. Participants have collected information for over 100 years, helping orinthologists and conservation biologists better understand what happens to birds over time.

Amateurs are welcome. To participate, contact Count Coordinator Lynn Thompson at lthompson54@satx.rr.com.

We’ll post updates here, on mycanyonlake.com. Check the Audubon Society’s website for more details, including where and when these will be held and the name of the points of contact who can give you more information.

Winter Birds of Comal County

All this information on CBC got us wondering what birds are in our area in the winter and likely to be spotted on these counts. We asked avid birder and Lindheimer Master Naturalist Coco Brennen to enlighten us. Here’s what Coco had to say:

“Texas is smack-dab in the middle of the Central North American Flyway, which means we get birds migrating to their wintering grounds stopping by in the Fall, but it also means that we get some birds to whom Central Texas is the wintering ground. 

“Lots of species of sparrows such as Vesper, Savannah, Grasshopper, Le Conte’s, Harris’ (just to name a few) and their allies such as Dark-eyed juncos and Spotted towhees think our area is just right for staying a few cold months. We also have many species of water fowl in the rivers and ponds as well as regular sightings of bald eagles at Canyon Lake. 

“Most people think all of our hummingbirds travel south in the winter, but once the Black-chinned and Ruby-throated hummers leave us, we have Rufous hummingbirds to keep us company until Spring.  You may also get American goldfinch or Pine siskins popping in for a snack at seed feeders after the natural grass seeds have depleted. 

“Busy little Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned kinglets can be found in Ashe juniper woods.  On the edges of fields, you can find Eastern bluebirds and every so often their cousins, Mountain bluebirds come for a visit. 

“Of course, we shouldn’t neglect our year-round birds such as the Northern mockingbird and the Northern cardinal, whose flame-red plumage brightens up the cold, cloudy days.  Winter days in our area are commonly the best birding days as the birds are easier to see due to lack of foliage and the sun gets up later so no need to be out before 6 a.m.!

Wow, we had no idea there were so many different kinds birds here in the winter. If you didn’t either, be prepared to ask to work with an expert like Coco when you join a CBC this year.

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