Join in on the Rydell/Glacial Ridge Christmas Bird Count December 17

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Rydell and Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuges will be hosting their 7th Annual Christmas Bird Count on Friday, December 17th. This pubic event is administered by the National Audubon Society and is the longest running citizen science bird project in the U.S. This year will mark the 122nd year of the Christmas Bird Count.

Counts are held in designated areas throughout the U.S. between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5 each year. Last year, counts were completed in over 2,500 locations, including Canada and Latin America. Over 75,000 people participated in the counts and over 50 million birds were tallied! Information from the count provides important information on winter ranges of birds, population trends, and how a changing climate alters winter bird distribution.

People have observed over 50 different bird species on the Rydell/Glacial Ridge Count Circle over the past six years, including northern shrikes, Bohemian waxwings, northern goshawks, pine and evening grosbeaks, hoary redpolls, and snowy owls. The 15-mile diameter count circle stretches from Erskine west to the center of Glacial Ridge Refuge. Although most of the migratory birds that breed in our area have headed south by now, this count provides a unique opportunity to observe a number of Artic-breeding species that consider northern MN their “warm” winter haven.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Refuge staff will have to run this count in a similar fashion to last year’s count. Participants will count independently, versus pairing up with Refuge staff and volunteers as in past years. People interested in participating do not need to be expert birders. This event can serve as a great learning experience for beginning birders. Binoculars and a bird book are the only required equipment. Participants can count from a vehicle or on foot, depending on their preference and the weather conditions that day. People who live within the Rydell/Glacial Ridge Count Circle can even participate by reporting bird sightings at feeders from the comfort of their home.

If you’re interested in participating in the count, a map of the count circle location and a data form will be emailed to you. The count coordinator will communicate with you to see what additional resources you might need (such as a list of birds seen on previous Rydell/Glacial Ridge counts, or links to online bird identification sites) and determine what part of the count circle you will focus your efforts on. After the count, participants can simply email their data to the count coordinator.

During the challenging times we’re all experiencing, we’re hoping this event will provide a fun and unique outdoor opportunity. Please RSVP no later than December 14th by calling Gregg Knutsen at 218-686-4329 or emailing at Gregg can also be contacted if you have any questions about the count, including whether your residence lies within the count circle.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service