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2013 Christmas Bird Count at the Alaska Zoo by Beth Peluso, Audubon Alaska

On December 8, four teams of kids and adults headed out into the Alaska Zoo for the 4th Christmas Bird Count for Kids. This annual event is hosted by a partnership of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Zoo, Audubon Alaska, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service. This year’s participants included 26 kids, 19 adults, 13 volunteers, 3 Education staff, and a partridge in a pear tree (but the last one didn’t count on our checklist!). Volunteer bird leaders helped each group identify the wild birds they spotted.

 

The teams spent an hour outside and counted a total of 10 species of wild birds at the zoo: Mallard, Common Raven, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-billed Magpie, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Bohemian Waxwing. The young birders counted a total of 213 individual birds. Several kids enjoyed doing interviews for a local TV station (Channel 11). Participants recounted their lists over pizza and hot chocolate. Everyone received take-home bird journals, and there were prizes for the group that saw the most species (8) and the highest number of birds (74).

Photo by John Gome/Alaska Zoo

Find Tracks in the Snow!

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you need to stay inside!  In fact, there are lots of things to do and lots of fun to be had exploring Alaska’s winter landscape. Before going out, be sure to dress properly and take the equipment necessary to keep you comfortable. Check our  “Safety Outdoors” section to learn more.

You may choose to snowshoe, ski, skate or just have fun in the snow.  But have you ever taken the time to discover wildlife in your area during the winter?  During the winter animals leave loads of clues to let you know they have been there. You can even try to figure out what they have been doing.  Sometimes they stop to eat, other times they interact with other animals – all these activities and more can be discovered by carefully reading their tracks and other signs in the snow. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has available online “Wild Wonders…Trek on in and learn about tracks!”  Mike Taras, Alaska Department of Fish & Game has written "Impressions in the Snow...Winter Tracking in Alaska."

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