Volunteer birders surveyed Sanibel's east end during the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Volunteer birders surveyed Sanibel's east end during the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Sanibel Sea School organized a group of 26 enthusiastic volunteers to complete the 2017 Audubon Christmas Bird Count on Sanibel’s east end. On Saturday, December 16th, participants picked up their data sheets at the organization’s Flagship Campus on Periwinkle Way, then divided into groups to survey the area for birds as part of the world’s largest annual citizen science project. In total, the group counted 2,284 individual birds.

“This is the third year we’ve participated in the Christmas Bird Count as an organization, but our first year coordinating it on the east end,” said Johnny Rader, who led the event. “Every year is different, and you never know what you will see. That’s the exciting part,” he added. Notable species counted on the east end of the island this year included Yellow-throated Warblers, Snowy Plovers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Red-breasted Mergansers. Volunteers also observed Red Knots, and a number of Mottled x Mallard Duck hybrids, which are not well understood. The most common sightings were Fish Crows, Laughing Gulls, and Brown Pelicans.

Data collected during the Christmas Bird Count will help scientists better understand the health of global bird populations and how we can protect them. Sanibel Sea School is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org. To receive communication about next year’s bird count, please email your request to info@sanibelseaschool.org.

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