Waimea-Koke’e bird count is Dec. 30, with training Dec. 27

Before dawn next Friday, Dec. 30, avid bird-lovers and volunteers will make the drive up the winding mountain road to Koke’e State Park, or a shorter drive to Waimea’s Lucy Wright Park, by 7 a.m., to help count birds in the Koke’e Natural History Museum’s Annual Christmas Bird Count.

The Waimea Count Circle Christmas Bird Count is being hosted for the 18th year by leaders and volunteers of the Koke’e Natural History Museum, in cooperation with those from the Audubon Society.

Beginning birders will be teamed with experienced leaders, and may also benefit from the training session offered several days before the year-end count.

Count volunteers will trek into some of the most botanically-rich and remote areas on Kaua’i, including the Alaka’i Swamp, where some rare Hawaiian rainforest birds dwell.

Other areas to be covered will be the coastal zone from Waimea River to Mana, the mesic forest, and Waimea Canyon via Kukui Trail.

Participants should wear warm clothes and hiking boots, and bring rain gear, binoculars, and a brown-bag or potluck lunch.

There will be a compilation meeting and pot-luck lunch at 1 p.m. at the old CCC Camp (Civilian Conservation Corps) in Koke’e State Park after the count.

In the past 17 years, Waimea Count volunteers have reported up to 43 species in a single year, counting close to 3,000 birds in some years.

To prepare for the count, a Hawaiian-bird-identification-training meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 6 p.m. at the West Kauai Technology & Visitors Center.

The meeting will be conducted by David Kuhn, a top Kaua’i birder who has released a recording of native-bird sounds.

The evening will feature learning Kuhn’s innovative techniques for bird identification as well as “seeing” skills, which can be used anywhere.

Participants will gain awareness of the unique birdlife on Kaua’i. There is no charge, and there will be free refreshments. Everyone, including young people and visitors, is invited.

Kuhn will share his knowledge of and passion for Hawai’i’s natural wonders, coupled with his willingness to share with young and old, to open doors of new excitement to all who attend, organizers said.

A $5 fee per person on count day makes possible the compilation and printing of results of more than 2,000 counts from around the world.

For more information or to register, please call Koke’e Museum at 335-9975.

Volunteers should meet on the front porch of Koke’e Museum at 7 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, except for those covering the coastal zone, who will gather in Waimea at the county Lucy Wright Park at the mouth of the Waimea River at 7 a.m.

Kaua’i bird-counters will join volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, and the West Indies, who will count and record every individual bird and bird species encountered during one calendar day.

The first Christmas Bird Count took place on Christmas Day in 1900, with 27 people counting birds in 25 locations across the North American continent.

The event originated as a protest to the traditional holiday slaughter in which teams competed to see who could kill the most birds and animals in one day.

Today, the Christmas Bird Count data gives scientists and natural resource managers insight into the long-term health of bird populations and the environment.

Information in yesterday’s newspaper gave the wrong count date, due to incorrect information in the Hawaii Audobon Society newsletter.

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