Winter gets a bad rap, not just for inclement, often intolerable weather but also for an apparent lack of biodiversity. True, most vegetation in temperate zones shuts down but as far as bird species go, the shorter months tend to be long on birds we just don’t see during the rest of the year. Here in the Americas, many of us observe the beginning of winter with a Christmas Bird Count. Now, thanks to David Ringer and his colleagues at Birdstack, another way to celebrate species around the Solstice has arrived…
At the December solstice, earth’s southern hemisphere is tipped toward the sun. In the north, the world is dark, cold, and getting colder. In the south, the sun is bright, days are long, and new life abounds. In the tropics, refugees and permanent residents coexist for a season.
Wherever you are on our glorious, dizzy little planet, stop for a moment and notice the birds of the solstice. Snow Buntings, swirling like leaves in bitter winds? Willie Wagtails stuffing insects into hungry young mouths? Let’s paint a picture of this moment in time: Birds of the Solstice.
Don’t you love international activities like this one? Participating is a snap and may in fact overlap with some scheduled CBCs. The full details are at Birdstack but I’ll summarize them here.
- Figure out when the winter solstice arrives in your part of the world. Here in New York, Sunday 12/21 at 7:04 a.m heralds the new, less pleasant season.
- Go birding. That’s easy, right? Whether it’s from your kitchen window or a frosty field, lay your eyes on some avifauna.
- Record your experiences. Go primitive by writing down your observations in a notebook or blast them worldwide on Birdstack, eBird, and your blog/Twitterfeed/Facebook page. You choose!
- Tell Birdstack about it. The masterminds of this event will post a compilation of lists, links, writing, and images on a new Birds of the Solstice compilation page by the end of December. Be a part of it.
So in brief, Birds of the Solstice is an international birding event, open to absolutely everyone, that is easy, fun, and, pardon my French, phenological. Why not be a part of it? While you’re at it, you may just want to start recording your bird sightings at Birdstack (for free, naturally.) Not only will you take a step forward in understanding significant trends in your birding behavior, you’ll learn a whole lot about the idiosyncrasies of the International Ornithological Congress’ taxonomy!