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Apr 25 – May 24, 2020 Annual Spring Census

April 25, 2020 - May 24, 2020

Event Coordinator – Jamie Meyers

Contact Jamie for more information at 860-693-4497 or

The HAS Spring Bird Census is On!  Our Census leader, Jamie Meyers, has extended the dates to run from Saturday, April 25 and run through Sunday, May 24.  Everyone is invited to participate while observing social distancing.  We’re following the ABA guidelines for respectful birding and will be doing this individually instead of teams as in “normal” years.  If you’d like to participate, please contact your town captains below.  Please report your sightings to the captains, who then compile the results for their town and submit them to Jamie.    Please review details below and stay safe!

Avon: Brian Toal
Barkhamsted: open
Bloomfield: Linda Clancy
Bolton: open
Bristol: David Zomick
Burlington: Margaret Schuster
Canton: Jay Kaplan
E Hartford: Debi Wheeler
Ellington: open
Enfield: Jim Deschamps
Farmington: Jim Moore
Glastonbury:  Bill Asteriades
Granby: John Weeks
Hartford: Open
Manchester:  Open
New Britain: Open
Newington : Roy Zatarian
Portland: Open
Rocky Hill: Open
Simsbury: Doug Beach
Somers: Jan Collins
South Windsor:  Paul Desjardins
Suffield: Arthur Sikes
West Hartford: Open
Wethersfield:  Steve Kotchko
Windsor: Mike and Judy Whittlesey

For those new to the census, it is a tally of species seen during the period on a town by town basis.  Each species counts as one; there is no effort to count total numbers of birds, as in a Christmas Count.  Each participating town has a captain; they are listed on the HAS website and in the program book.  Please report your sightings to the captains, who then compile the results for their town and submit them to me.

I have gone birding frequently during this ordeal and seen that responsible birding and social distancing are not mutually exclusive ideas.  But, I have found in order to achieve that, it is necessary to do things differently.  Most importantly, the most popular recreation areas are currently even busier with people trying to get some fresh air than usual.  I strongly recommend avoiding those places except in the early morning.  The good thing here is that early morning is when you would want to go anyway, as that is when bird activity is at its best.  Access to state parks is also limited.  The same approach applies to those places.  I am favoring locations with wide walking paths or other very open spaces, where it is more possible to safely share your space with others.  I recommend avoiding busier places which have narrow walking paths.  Birding in groups is highly discouraged.
I hope that many of you who do the census every year will get out enjoy the season to whatever extent you feel comfortable. Under no circumstances am I suggesting you go out into the field if you don’t feel comfortable or safe doing so.  You have to do what’s right for you.
The American Birding Association recently published excellent guidelines for birding during these times, which I am posting below.  Please be safe and smart!
–Jamie Meyers

American Birding Association Guidelines on Birding and Social Distancing.

The basic principles of “quarantine” birding are already well covered in the  ABA Code of Birding Ethics:

        3a. Respect and promote the law and the rights of others; and
        3b. Familiarize yourself with and follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing activities at your birding location.
Even so, there are gray areas and places where reasonable, caring birders will differ. Here are a few thoughts to help guide your birding as we all get through these challenging, rapidly changing times together:
  1. Birding is a GREAT thing to do right now, whether you’re a lifelong birder or someone who has just started noticing birds out your window. Keeping a connection with birds and nature is a valuable way to improve mood, lower stress, and gain perspective on our current troubles. As such, birding should be strongly supported and encouraged.
  2. Some types of birding and birding locales are specifically to be avoided now, particularly any situation or location that would encourage or require people to violate physical distancing guidelines or travel away from one’s local area. These should be scrupulously avoided.
  3. There is no “one size fits all” prescription for how to accomplish this. People are in many different types of living situations, from high-density urban dwellings to very lightly populated, rural landscapes. Exactly what is appropriate will vary significantly from place to place.
  4. Please remember that every time you hike into the wilds or get on the road to drive to go birding, you have the potential to require emergency services. This could put pressure on an already strained group of emergency personnel at this challenging time. As such, work to stay as close to home as possible.
  5. People’s judgement of what is safe will vary. There is little to be gained from birders attacking each other on social media and elsewhere about perceived lapses in physical distancing. However, thoughtful discussion, promotion, and modeling of one’s own “quarantine” birding practices are welcome and appropriate.
In short, bird as you are able, close to home, and without exposing yourself or anyone else to risk.


April 25, 2020
May 24, 2020
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