LFCC to Jointly Sponsor Local Christmas Bird Count

For Immediate Release:
December 15, 2008

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
svoth@lfcc.edu
Phone: 540-868-7134

MIDDLETOWN, Va. – From Dec. 14, 2008, to Jan. 5, 2009, individuals in all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies and Pacific Islands will participate in the 109th annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society. 

Marking the 33rd year for the local count, on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Audubon Society and Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) will jointly sponsor the Northern Shenandoah Valley area’s CBC. In the event of extreme weather conditions, such as a heavy snowstorm, the local count will be rescheduled. 

The CBC is an early-winter bird census, where volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear within a 24-hour period. The survey is not just a species tally — all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. 

LFCC Professors Rob and Ann Simpson and two LFCC students are serving as organizers and will also compile the data collected during the event. Everyone is welcome to participate in the event, from novice to experienced bird watchers. 

“I became involved with the CBC four years ago when I entered Professor [Rob] Simpson’s field biology class. Immediately after entering the class, I knew exactly what I wanted to do in life. His classes offered hands-on experiences with wildlife, particularly birds, which I could not have experienced elsewhere. With my enthusiasm for studying birds, I instantly became interested in taking part in the count,” said Chuck Turner, an LFCC student and Bentonville resident. “This year, I am working in conjunction with Professors Ann and Rob Simpson in organizing the CBC. I took on the task with the knowledge that this would be a great way to expand my portfolio.” 

The Northern Shenandoah Valley count area is from southern Winchester to Front Royal and is divided into 17 sections. Teams of three to four volunteers are assigned to cover each region as thoroughly as possible. The teams usually try to be in the field from sunrise to sunset. Most teams typically drive around their sections in cars and stop at convenient areas to look for birds. Teams whose count sections fall within the boundaries of towns look at bird feeders, while other teams will hike through wooded areas to search for woodland birds. 

The data gathered from the CBC yield valuable insights into the changes in numbers and types of birds recorded. Birds are extremely sensitive to various environmental threats such as habitat destruction and pollution. Because census data is conducted within the same boundaries each year, the results tabulated over a period of years show changes in the numbers and kinds of birds seen and the environmental changes in a specific area. 

“The Christmas Bird Count is the longest continuous wildlife census in the world, and since the habits of birds often signal issues with the environment, the data collected helps to address local environmental problems,” Rob said. 

For more information about the history of the CBC and data from 1900 to present, interested individuals may visit the Audubon Web site at http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/

For more information about the Northern Shenandoah Valley area’s local CBC, interested individuals may contact Ann Simpson at 540-868-7220 or asimpson@lfcc.edu.

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Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lord Fairfax Community College. Lord Fairfax Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. LFCC also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.

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