Annual count is for the birds

It's time to count birds again, and we don't mean your Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners. The Audubon Society of Greater Denver, in conjunction with local Audubon groups around the nation, is asking its members to count the birds they see in their back yards on New Year's Day - a tradition going back 109 years in some parts of the country.

"We ask you to report each species which comes to your feeder and yard, and the total number of individuals -- don't count the same ones twice, but try to figure out an accurate number for them, to the best of your ability," says Audubon lifer Hugh Kingery in an e-mail.

"You don't need to restrict your list to feeder birds -- if you go for a walk and see other birds in your neighborhood, count them too. Our count goes from the Platte on the west, north to Clear Creek, east to Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Cherry Creek Reservoir and Hampden on the south."

Here in the Westword back yard, we see mainly pigeons, but every once in a while - even on Broadway, one of Denver's busiest, grimiest thoroughfares - we've seen something else: a black-capped chickadee, a flicker, and my personal favorite, the Downey woodpecker, which comes in a tiny, fluffy flash of white, black and red.

For more info on the bird count, call 303-814-2723. - Jonathan Shikes

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