Birds

Ocracoke and Portsmouth island Christmas Bird counts set

Double-crested Cormorants on Ocracoke, NC . Photo by Peter Vankevich

Double-crested Cormorants commute along the Ocracoke shore . Photo by Peter Vankevich

At the end of each year, Ocracoke and Portsmouth islands are among the thousands of areas that participate in the nationwide Christmas Bird Count from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.

The resulting data becomes part of the longest wildlife census in the nation and can help track whether certain species are decreasing or increasing.

The larger paler Ipswich subspecies of the Savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) breeds on Sable Island, NS and can be seen on these counts as this one was on last year’s Ocracoke CBC. This year an alert was sent out to look for colored banded birds as part of a research project. Photo: Peter Vankevich

This year, the local counts will be held Saturday, Dec. 30, on Portsmouth and Sunday, Dec. 31, on Ocracoke.

Last year, 80 species were tallied on Ocracoke and 71 on Portsmouth. Northern Gannets, Brown Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants are regulars over the waters, and the Yellow-rumped (Myrtle race) Warbler is the most common land bird. Usually one or two Peregrine Falcons are reported.

The Portsmouth bird count will be over in time for participants to attend the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Oyster Roast in the afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m.

The tallying ends with a pot luck dinner Dec. 31 to share in camaraderie and learn how many species were recorded including any rare birds for the region.

To participate, contact Peter Vankevich, 202 468-287, or email: petevankevich@gmail.com.

Heading back to Ocracoke after the 2016 Portsmouth Island Christmas Bird Count. Photo by  Peter Vankevich