Community Gathers for DEQ Winter Bird Count
December 16, 2022
The Community’s annual Winter Bird Count took place in person this year on Saturday Dec. 3. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hosted the event. This year the event drew 70 participants across GRIC. Participants set out for a morning of “birding,” where they identified and tracked several species of birds that call the Community home.
Unfortunately, rainy weather conditions hampered some data collection this year, as birds aren’t readily out during rain. Nonetheless, participants set out that morning at the Managed Aquifer Recharge Site #5 (MAR5), District 6, and District 7 to search for birds in the area.
Tison Gill, DEQ Environmental Education & Outreach Specialist said, “I would just like to thank everyone that made it out. This was our first community-wide event since before COVID, so it was nice to see everyone excited and enthusiastic about helping the Community collect our bird data.” Despite the weather, many people participated, so Gill was pleased with the outcome.
Gill shared that after compiling the data, they saw an abundance of Mourning Doves, White Crowned Sparrows, Gambel’s Quails, Ravens, and Vultures. In addition, many common birds in the Community, like the red-spotted blackbird, owls, and red-tailed hawks were also recorded.
As in years past, several members from Audubon societies joined Community members and DEQ to assist with the bird identification. Members of the Desert Rivers, Maricopa, and Sonoran Audubon societies served as leads at each site. And Dr. Dave Pearson, from Arizona State University, brought some of his students to assist throughout the event.
While the rain factored into the lack of visible birds in flight, members of the Audubon societies could identify birds based on their chirps, calls, and noises. Their knowledge was helpful for identification but didn’t allow them to track the number of birds heard.
For this year’s event, DEQ partnered with the Huhugam Heritage Center for a post-event gathering for cultural presentations by the staff. But, because the event was outdoors, the rain forced DEQ to cancel this portion of the program. However, the Heritage Center was accommodating, assisting DEQ distribute lunches and incentives for everyone and also opening the museum for everyone to tour.
While the Winter Bird Count didn’t go as planned, DEQ is already in the planning stages for their next Community event. DEQ’s annual Earth Day event will return in-person in April 2023.