BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Last month’s Wabash Valley Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count in Indiana brought many surprises for the patient birdwatchers. Among all the birds spotted, the Ross’ goose might have been one of the most interesting discoveries.
The bird was spotted around Hulman Lake on Terre Haute’s east side. It is known to breed in the Arctic and spend the winters in California. Therefore, its presence in Indiana might be regarded as a rarity. For example, Ellen Lunsford, one of the many birdwatchers, declared that this was the first time she had seen a Ross’ goose.
Birdwatching is quite a popular “sport” practiced by a big segment of the American population. The birdwatching enthusiasts call themselves “birders”. A study undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 found that about 47 million people around all the United Stated perform birdwatching. Indiana occupied the 18th place and scored 23 percent of its population that are regular birdwatchers.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also created the profile of the typical birdwatcher. She is a woman, 53 years old on average, who is more likely to be white and have an above-average income and education. However, more than half of the entire population of “birders” do not earn more than $50,000 and almost one-third of the group is made up by minorities.
This birdwatching industry is quite profitable for the state. It provides $107 billion from tourism and gear purchase, $16 billion from taxes, and provides 666,000 jobs on average.
The Terre Haute area that hosts the Wabash Valley Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count has become quite popular, since it is such a good area for birdwatching. It includes many spots that are perfect for it, such as Hawthorn Park, the National Road Heritage Trail, and many others.
Throughout the 57 Bird Counts held so far, the birders spotted a total of 145 species of birds. On the 2016 edition, they spotted 78 species. The rare sightings included, of course, the Ross’ goose, but also the cackling goose, the tundra swan, common merganser and ruddy ducks, or the Savannah sparrow.
The Wabash Valley Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count gathers more and more people every year. Next year, they are expecting new enthusiasts to join them in their exquisite “birding”. Thus, the event may become one of the most important gathering of the year.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons